Faces of the Bog to Release Ego Death LP Sept. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

faces of the bog

Whether it’s dug-in intensity or spacious psych landscape-building Faces of the Bog‘s debut album, Ego Death, well earns its claim toward sonic diversity. The Sanford Parker-produced seven-tracker originally came out at the end of last year and is set for a vinyl release through DHU Records on Sept. 22. You can stream the thing in its entirety at the bottom of this post and there’s copious info to go on — including live dates with Attalla, Castle, Disenchanter and Pale Horseman for you Midwestern types — so I’ll keep it short in terms of the descriptive end, but as I make my way through there’s a persistent commitment to ambience that seems to tie the record together and it’s one that, having missed out on the first time around, I hope to get to know better.

From the PR wire:

faces-of-the-bog-ego-death

FACES OF THE BOG: Chicagoland’s psychedelic sludge masters to officially release debut album Ego Death on DHU Records

Ego Death by Faces of the Bog is released on 22nd September 2017

Initially conceived in a dingy rehearsal space in Humboldt Park during the fall of 2011, Faces of the Bog have fast become one of the underground’s most celebrated secrets following the self-release of their debut album Ego Death late last year.

For the Chicagoland quartet, their own unique interpretation of sludge has never run neatly alongside preconceived notions of how this kind of music should be played. Choosing to ignore convention and instead power brutal riffs headfirst into psychedelically heightened grooves, relying on atmosphere and mood to create melodic textures they are a band constantly pushing the envelope.

Produced and engineered by the band and Sanford Parker (Voivod, Yob, Wreckmeister Harmonies, Bloodiest) at Electrical Audio and Decade Music Studios, Ego Death hit pretty damn hard for an “independently put-out” album.

“It’s truly amazing these days when an underground band from a US city like Chicago can release an album completely on their own,” explains guitarist/vocalist Trey Wedgeworth. “We’ve been amazed and humbled by the feedback we’ve received all over the world. Fans from places like Germany, Norway, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, and Russia have all reached out to us to give their kind words to what we’re doing.”

It was while playing a handful of shows last year with pacific north-westerners Mother Crone that the band were introduced (in a roundabout way) to the good work of Netherland-based record label, DHU Records.

“Mother Crone ran into some transportation issues while out on tour and we were fortunate enough to be able to help some good dudes in need,” says Wedgeworth. “They more than repaid the favour by putting us in touch with Robert Black at DHU Records. DHU is a DIY label that releases limited edition vinyl packages for some of the heaviest bands in underground music today, so we quickly forged a great relationship and are completely ecstatic that he’s now rereleasing Ego Death on vinyl.”

Pre-order – http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Track Listing:
1. Precipice
2. Drifter in The Abyss
3. Slow Burn
4. The Serpent and The Dagger
5. Ego Death
6. The Weaver
7. Blue Lotus

Live:
5th Aug – Cold Shot – Appleton, Wisconsin (w. Atalla and Black Road)
11th Aug – Reggies – Chicago, Illinois (w. Castle)
4th Oct – Liars Club – Chicago, Illinois (w. Disenchanter and Swamp Ritual)
2nd Sept – Beard Metal Fest – Custer Park, Illinois (w. Pale Horseman, Starless and DeepSpacePilots)

Faces of the Bog:
Paul Bradfield – Bass
Danny Garcia – Drums/Percussion
Mark Stephen Gizewski – Guitars/Vocals
Trey Wedgeworth – Guitars/ Vocals

Personnel:
Sanford Parker – Synth/FX (tracks 1,4,5, & 7)
Artwork – Tony Midi (www.tonymidi.com)
Photography – Cassandra Gordon, GoldilocksCG
Layout – Mark Stephen Gizewski
Mastered – Collin Jordan

https://www.facebook.com/facesofthebog
https://www.instagram.com/facesofthebog/
https://twitter.com/Faces_ofthe_Bog
https://facesofthebog.bandcamp.com/
http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/

Faces of the Bog, Ego Death (2017)

Faces of the Bog, The Making of Ego Death

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

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

quarterly-review-summer-2017

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

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

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

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

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

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

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

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

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

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

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

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

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

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

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

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

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

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

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

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

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

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

Green Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

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

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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Review & Full Stream: Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bible of the devil still on top

[Click play above to stream the new split single from Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore. Copies are available now from the bands.]

“Got no time to lose” is one of the lines tossed out in the call and response hook to Bible of the Devil‘s “Still on Top,” which is their contribution to a new split 7″ single with Albuquerque’s Leeches of Lore. It might be true in the case of both bands, but for the Chicago outfit it seems especially so. After years of road-dogging, the antic-prone two-guitar four-piece have played it decidedly lower key since the release of their most recent album, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), via Cruz del Sur in 2012. They’ve done periodic tours in the Midwest and hit local fests like Alehorn of Power, but where the aughts and early ’10s found them belting out album after album, tour after tour, and a succession of splits with the likes of ValkyrieSlough Feg and Winterhawk, the half-decade since the last full-length has been comparatively quiet.

One single, of course, isn’t going to make up for lost time, but “Still on Top” comes across very much as a song with a message, taking a workingman’s rocker perspective and assuring both the listener and the band that yes, they’ve still got it. Interestingly, it comes accompanied by Leeches of Lore‘s “Mountain of Mom,” which may or may not be the final recorded output from a group who recently and willingly gave that same “it” up. Following their to-date pinnacle work in 2015’s Toshi Kasai-produced Motel of Infinity (review here), the avant rockers led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Hammond played what was to be their last shows in May 2017, making this, at least technically, a posthumous offering. For what it’s worth, they hardly sound dead at all.

So in terms of communication, what Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore present in “Still on Top” and “Mountain of Mom” is — at least potentially — hello and a goodbye. One hesitates to speculate on the future of either group, particularly since the latter have said they’re done and since it’s been so long since the former had any other output, but that’s how it looks on the surface, and for a release that runs neatly under the nine-minute mark and comprises just two tracks, it’s a pretty efficient check-in. Accordingly, both groups play solidly to their strengths.

For Bible of the Devil, that means a classic-sounding blend of rock and metal, with guitar work by Nathan Perry (also vocals) and Chris Grubbs in the spirit of the NWOBHM as most informed by Thin Lizzy-style good times, and an upbeat hook propelled by the rhythm section of drummer Greg Spalding and bassist/vocalist Darren Amaya. On the basic level of its approach, it could hardly be more their own if it was about “the night,” but while the method and structure may be familiar, a rawer production than one necessarily might expect from Bible of the Devil after For the Love of Thugs and Fools or the preceding 2008 triumph, Freedom Metal, gives a live feel to the proceedings such that there’s almost a garage sensibility to the initial chug and the verse, before the background vocals or harmonized guitar lead take hold.

This might make “Still on Top” an even more fitting complement to “Mountain of Mom,” as Leeches of Lore have always been (or “always were,” depending on the tense in which one wants to categorize them) a rawer band, even under the guidance of Kasai, taking cues from noise rock, punk, country, extreme metal and the great anti-genre beyond where few dare to tread. Their final lineup consisted of HammondKris KerbyNoah Wolters and Andy Lutz, but whether or not that’s who appears on the single I don’t actually know. In any case, like Bible of the Devil before them, Leeches of Lore are very much at home in the 4:09 “Mountain of Mom,” working quickly even with the title to make the listener ill-at-ease as only good art can in terms of just what the hell they’re talking about and whether or not it actually has anything to do with the song itself.

That’s a question that remains as Hammond moves vocally between cleaner singing, falsetto, and harsher shouts and the band around him between circuitous lumbering marked out by its transitional drum fills and sustained pulls of guitar and a last-minute delve into lead guitar and organ that comes close enough to punk rock cabaret to recall some of Leeches of Lore‘s more offbeat aesthetic aspects, even if the basic structure it keeps to is relatively straightforward. If indeed it is their final output — again, one never says never in rock and roll — it’s a suitable weirdo-metal farewell with early screams leading to talk of the end of the world and traffic jams and so on. One might call it “the usual,” but in the grander scheme, there’s hardly anything usual about it, and of course that’s a big part of the fun.

Like much of Leeches of Lore‘s work during their time together, “Mountain of Mom” benefits from longer-term digestion over multiple listens, but those repeat visits are well-enough earned by the quickened feel and the front-to-back linear transition the band undergoes. As was the case throughout their tenure, their reach remains underrated and underappreciated, and despite a more immediate take, the same could easily be said of Bible of the Devil, the quality of whose work has always made them something of a well-kept secret within the American Midwest. If there’s anything tying the two bands together, it’s probably that most of all, but neither should one discount the fact that throughout their careers — one maybe restarting, the other maybe over — neither of them has been willing to compromise who they are at their root or give up exploring outward from their sonic foundation. Their split may be short, but there’s no lack of substance whatsoever.

Bible of the Devil on Thee Facebooks

Bible of the Devil on Bandcamp

Bible of the Devil website

Leeches of Lore on Thee Facebooks

Leeches of Lore on Bandcamp

Leeches of Lore website

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Scorched Tundra VIII Announces Lineup with Acid King, Oxbow, The Atomic Bitchwax and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

In all places and in all things, I remain a sucker for a good bill. I’ll be elsewhere this same weekend, as The Obelisk is presenting the Emerald Haze festival in Dublin, Ireland (info here), and I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited over for that, but a good bill is a good bill, and if you happen to be in Chicago or can head that way, Scorched Tundra VIII has one to offer, with Acid King, The Atomic Bitchwax and Oxbow positioned as headliners across three nights from Sept. 1-3 at The Empty Bottle.

Those names are enough to grab attention, to be sure, but toss in the post-metallic breadth of Minsk, perpetual sludge scumbags FistulaPelican offshoot RLYR (only fair since it’s Chicago after all), and others, and yeah, it looks like a damn fine way to spend a couple of nights, provided your calendar doesn’t conflict.

Tickets are available now and you’ll find those links and more info below, courtesy of the fest:

scorched-tundra-viii-poster

ACID KING, OXBOW, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX, FISTULA, MINSK, BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH, AND MORE CONFIRMED FOR SCORCHED TUNDRA VIII

Scorched Tundra is proud to announce the lineup for its eighth edition. The second installment of 2017 – taking place September 1-3 at The Empty Bottle in Chicago – will feature the showcases’ most diverse and extensive lineup to date.

Friday September 1st
The Atomic Bitchwax
Fistula
Electric Hawk

Saturday September 2nd
Acid King
Minsk
Wolvhammer
Bottomed

Sunday September 3rd
Oxbow
Behold! The Monolith
RLYR

Tickets for each day can be purchased at the following links:

Friday September 1st:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7524445&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Saturday September 2nd:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7523745&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Sunday September 3rd:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7524415&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Scorched Tundra’s mission is to give a new generation of talented artists a unique live platform in Chicago and Gothenburg. Scorched Tundra’s billing – based on sound not stature – creates a unique aural experience for the audience. “The forthcoming eighth edition was the most enjoyable to put together as the lineup is extremely eclectic and in many ways different from past iterations. All of these artists are newcomers to Scorched Tundra; they are very difficult to pigeonhole; and transcend categorization. Intimate, historic, and highly respected, The Empty Bottle in Chicago will once again play as a perfect host to this unique set of artists,” states organizer Alexi Front.

Scorched Tundra VIII marks the event’s much anticipated return to Chicago after last years two day sold out event. The third ever Scorched Tundra beer – brewed in collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing Company –an India Pale Ale dry hopped with Australian and American aromatic varietals – will be available at select bars and stores in Chicago in August and at the festival. Longtime Scorched Tundra collaborator Axel Widén created artwork for the beer label and festival poster. Seven other Pipeworks beers will be available as part of a tap takeover throughout Scorched Tundra VIII.

http://www.scorchedtundra.com
https://www.facebook.com/ScorchedTundra

The Atomic Bitchwax, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2017

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The Atlas Moth Sign to Prosthetic Records; New LP Coma Noir Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Chicago’s The Atlas Moth are currently dug into the recording process of their fourth album, to be titled Coma Noir. Their first outing since 2014’s righteous The Old Believer (discussed here), it’s being produced by none other than Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, etc.) and will see release this fall as the band’s debut release through Prosthetic Records.

Solid fit for a band who’ve consistently played outside genre lines and an imprint who’ve taken pains particularly over the last couple years to expand their own aesthetic palette to cover swaths of the heavy and/or doom underground, and when it comes to The Atlas Moth, the likelier bet would be further progression of their densely-weighted, atmospheric sound, since whatever else they’ve done over the course of their three LPs to-date, they’ve never failed to push themselves forward.

One to look forward to in the colder, darker months to come.

From the PR wire:

the atlas moth

THE ATLAS MOTH Sign to Prosthetic Records, Recording New Album, “Coma Noir”

In-Studio Now with Sanford Parker (Voivod, Eyehategod) | Release Details Coming Soon

Chicago-based experimental metal band THE ATLAS MOTH have officially announced their signing to Prosthetic Records. The five-piece is augmenting their ever-evolving sound with producer Sanford Parker (Voivod, Eyehategod) at the helm.

Vocalist/guitarist Stavros Giannopoulos comments on the signing, “We have nothing but the best things to say about our time with Profound Lore and we are equally excited to start our next chapter with Prosthetic Records! We are currently tracking our fourth full-length record, Coma Noir, in Chicago with Sanford Parker at the helm! We’ve known Sanford for many years and are stoked to have him be the first to produce a moth record outside of the band. Keep your eyes peeled for in studio updates.”

Coma Noir will be released in the fall of this year. More information will be made available soon.

THE ATLAS MOTH have released three full lengths, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky (Candlelight Records), An Ache For The Distance (Profound Lore) and The Old Believer (Profound Lore), as well as numerous splits, EPs and singles. They have toured with Gojira, Boris, Between the Buried and Me, The Ocean, Scale The Summit and many more throughout the world.

THE ATLAS MOTH is:
Andrew Ragin – Synth/guitar
Alex Klein – Bass
Mike Miczek – Drums
David Kush- Guitar/Vocals
Stavros Giannopoulos – Guitar/Vocals

www.facebook.com/theatlasmothband
www.twitter.com/theatlasmoth
www.instagram.com/theatlasmoth

The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer (2014)

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Drug Honkey Post Lyric Video for “Pool of Failure”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

drug honkey

If you haven’t yet heard it, the new album from Chicago’s Drug Honkey contains some of the most thoroughly fucked-sounding audio you’re likely to encounter in 2017. I mean it. Not only is Cloak of Skies (review here) unremitting in its bleakness, but the sheer aural harshness the band conveys with their industrialized sludge is like almost nothing else out there. With a background in extreme metal, they bring that intensity to their first outing since 2013’s Ghost in the Fire (review here), and the aggressive, malevolent place they wind up with the record is as brutal in its atmospheric purpose as in its raw assault factor. By the time it’s over, one feels as though they’ve earned this sonic punishment, even if one isn’t entirely sure what it is they’re supposed to feel so guilty for.

A noteworthy guest remix by Justin Broadrick has helped get the word out some about what Drug Honkey are doing, and sure enough Godflesh are a central influence or at very least a starting point when it comes to trying to understand where Cloak of Skies is coming from, but the real impact of the album comes from its deranged vibe and opaque violence. As the leadoff track, “Pool of Failure” offers the first signal of this mission and gets it underway in terrifyingly immersive form. Like much of what follows throughout Cloak of Skies, it is a nightmarish pulse peppered with impressionist lyrics, expressive and evocative half-thoughts that lead the listener downward on a course that will only continue in that direction.

Do you get the fucking point yet that Drug Honkey are basically out to wreck consciousness? Good. They’ve got a new video for “Pool of Failure” posted now with even more nightmare-style imagery, and I’d hate for you to go into such a thing unprepared to have your day melted by the song or the clip’s depressive disaffection. You have, as the saying goes, been warned.

Dig it:

Drug Honkey, “Pool of Failure” lyric video

Chicago-based industrial doom lords DRUG HONKEY have premiered their macabre new video for ‘Pool of Failure.’

Recorded by the band themselves at SOS Studio in Chicago and Everflow Studios in Berwyn, IL, Cloak of Skies boasts seven tracks, including a remix by the legendary Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu) and a guest saxophone feature from Bruce Lamont (Yazuka, Corrections House, Brain Tentacles). Cover art was hand-painted by renowned artist Paulo Girardi (Inquisition, Power Trip).

DRUG HONKEY is:
Paul Gillis (Honkey Head) – Vocals/Synths/Samples/FX
Gabe Grosso (Hobbs) – Guitars
Ian Brown (Brown Honkey) – Bass
Adam Smith (BH Honkey) – Drums

Cloak of Skies is currently available for purchase (vinyl, CD, digital) at this location: http://drughonkey.bandcamp.com

Drug Honkey on Bandcamp

Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

heavy-traffic-plastic-surgery

Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

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Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

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Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

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Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Drug Honkey Premiere “Pool of Failure”; Cloak of Skies out May 5

Posted in audiObelisk on March 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

drug honkey

Chicago extremists Drug Honkey will release their fifth album, Cloak of Skies, May 5 via Transcending Obscurity Records. For those unfamiliar with the industrially-tinged sludge dystopias the band conjures, the opening roar of “Pool of Failure” will likely catch you off guard. Hell, even if you caught wind of their last outing, 2013’s Ghost in the Fire (review here), it’s entirely likely that Cloak of Skies will offer more than a few shocking moments in its play toward unremitting darkness, the breadth over which that darkness seems to stretch, the crushing nature of their churn and the somehow punkish undertones at work beneath cuts like “Sickening Wastoid” and “Outlet of Hatred,” which together with “Pool of Failure” form an opening salvo reimagining early C.O.C. or at times even Napalm Death through the lens of a terrible future that, one might argue, has actually come to pass.

As one might figure, Godflesh are a key influence. Enough so that the four-piece of vocalist/synthesist Paul Gillis, guitarist Gabe Grosso, bassist Ian Brown and drummer Adam Smith sought out Justin K. Broadrick to remix “Pool of Failure” as a bonus track. Vast, Jesu-style drone plays a role as well, as “(It’s Not) The Way” drug honkey cloak of skiesdemonstrates, and certainly the more extended finale duo of the 10-minute “The Oblivion of an Opiate Nod” and the eight-minute title-track have their elements of soundscaping as well, but as textured as they are, they’re full of horrors, which is Drug Honkey‘s specialty to be sure. Their roots are in noise and Chicago’s extreme metal underground, but the actual sonics the band emits are twisted beyond whatever their inspirations might be, and through layered growls and spoken lines and a steady wash of synth and effects over the grueling roll of “The Oblivion of an Opiate Nod,” Gillis feels just as much like the one calling down the storm as the one being consumed by it. A deathly expanse at its most ranging, Cloak of Skies is defined by its tortured sensibility and passes its cruelty onto the listener in hyperbole-ready fashion. However one might feel about it listening to “Pool of Failure,” chances are ambivalence won’t be a factor.

But gruesome art is still art, and the band — now also veterans of Denmark’s prestigious Roskilde Festival — are frank in the purposefulness of what they’re doing on Cloak of Skies. These songs, from “Pool of Failure” through the title-cut, are built around the intent to convey a truly misanthropic feel, and accordingly, their churn is simply going to come across as overwhelming to some listeners. That’s been the case with their work for a long time, and while if we’re going by the level of what’s happening in terms of the superficial audio it certainly doesn’t sound like anyone is coming out on top, it’s the source of Drug Honkey‘s success on the record. They revel in these miseries, and by the time “Cloak of Skies” rounds out with its looped vocals — not even words, just syllables at that point — samples, guest saxophone from Corrections House/Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont and droning abrasion, they’ve turned them into a potent ritual that’s as immersive as it is off-putting. Imagine swirling psychedelia but every color is black. Across seven songs and 50 minutes (including the remix), Drug Honkey bask in tragedy and come out on the other side having covered themselves in filth as if to show us our own complicity in its creation. If there were any justice in the universe, they’d be playing in art galleries.

Cloak of Skies will be out May 5 on Transcending Obscurity. I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word, but you can hear the premiere of “Pool of Failure” below, followed by more info off the PR wire.

And yes, I hope you enjoy:

US band DRUG HONKEY have always been a step ahead of their peers, if there were any in the first place. There’s a form of tenacity in their music of the same kind that will have you crawl ahead in life despite all its inherent ugliness pinning you down. They are taking things to a different level, with guest contributions from the legend himself, Justin K. Broadrick (GODFLESH, JESU) and Bruce Lamont (YAKUZA, CORRECTIONS HOUSE) with his saxophone eeriness, and having the hand-painted artwork of Paolo Girardi (INQUISITION, CHTHE’ILIST) represent the pulsating sickness of this ambitious and unconventional release.

Album lineup –
Paul Gillis (Honkey Head) – Vocals, Synths, Samples, FX
Adam Smith (BH Honkey) – Drums
Gabe Grosso (Hobbs) – Guitar
Ian Brown (Brown Honkey) – Bass

Official release date – May 5th, 2017.

Drug Honkey on Bandcamp

Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

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