1000mods Announce April European Touring and Summer Festival Gigs

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

1000mods

I know I said as much at the time, but I was deeply, deeply honored to have The Obelisk among the presenters for Greek heavy rock forerunners 1000mods‘ first US tour. It was something I didn’t expect to happen and for a band like them, who’ve so clearly conquered Europe and are looking now to branch out, it was humbling to have even some small role in that. I hear it went well. I hear they’re hoping to come back. All the better. Nothing follows up one tour quite like another tour.

It’s in that spirit, I suppose, that the four-piece have announced the run below for April. Dubbed ‘Into the Spell,’ it finds them continuing to support 2016’s Repeated Exposure To… (review here) ad playing in Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, and so on. They’ll also be at Hellfest and more this summer, as you can see in the list of dates below posted on the social medias by Sound of Liberation, which booked the gigs.

Goes like this:

1000mods tour poster

Back from their extended North American trip for only 20 days, the groovy 1000mods are getting ready for their next tour “Into the Spell”! On April 12th, they will hit the European roads again, as follows:

12.04 | PL | Krakow | Zet Pe Te
13.04 | PL | Warsaw | Smoke Over Warsaw III
14.04 | LT | Vilnius | Loftas
15.04 | EE | Tallinn | Rockstars
17.04 | FIN | Helsinki | Kuudes Linja
18.04 | FIN | Tampere | Klubi
20.04 | SWE | Stockholm | Kraken
21.04 | NOR | Oslo | Blå
22.04 | SWE | Malmö | Plan B
23.04 | DK | Copenhagen | Stengade
24.04 | D | Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg (Desertfest Warm-up)
25.04 | PL | Poznan | Pod Minoga
26.04 | CZ | Prag | 007
27.04 | HUN | Budapest | A38
28.04 | A | Graz | PPC
29.04 | A | Vienna | Arena

Summer Fests:
31.05.2018 Timisoara Revolution Festival RO
23.06.2018 Clisson Hellfest Festival FR
25.07.2018 Tolmin MetalDays Festival SLO
27.07.2018 Neuensee Rock Im Wald Festival D
25.08.2018 Suceava Bucovina Rock Castle Festival RO

100mods is:
Dani G. / Bass & Vox
Giannis S. / Guitars
George T. / Guitars
Labros G. / Drums

https://www.facebook.com/1000mods/
https://1000mods.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/1000mods
www.soundofliberation.com/id-1000mods

1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: 1000mods Announce First-Ever US Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents, Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

1000mods

I think it’s fair to consider the first US tour from Greek heavy rock forerunners 1000mods the most significant arrival on North American shores of a European underground band since Truckfighters‘ first tour in 2011. I could not possibly be more thrilled to have The Obelisk have a hand in presenting this run with Tone Deaf Touring and Action PR. “Stoked” simply does not begin to describe it.

Why? Because, simply put, 1000mods are ready. It’s going to be a big change for them from what they’re used to from being on the road in Europe, the level they’re at and so on, but I honestly don’t think they’d hit the States at all if they weren’t looking to make a habit of it. Anything’s possible and this could be a one-time thing, but either way, as they support their strongest work yet on 2016’s Repeated Exposure To… (review here), they seem primed for the embrace of a new audience. Also just announced for Hellfest Open Air in France next June, they’re already veterans multiple times over of the Desertfests and have crisscrossed Europe in admirable fashion for years now. It’s great to imagine them doing the same thing in America and once again building their audience from the ground up as organically as they have elsewhere.

Kudos to the band for taking on the task, and thanks to them as well as to Tone Deaf and Action for letting this site be involved in any way at all. Support on the run comes alternately from Sierra and Telekinetic Yeti. The official announcement for the tour follows here, as seen on the PR wire, with ticket links (more to go on sale this Monday):

1000mods tour

Grecian Stoner Rock Heroes 1000mods Announce North American Headlining Tour

Celebrated Heavy Psych Group to Bring Electric Live Set to Western Hemisphere for First Time in Decade-Plus Career

Esteemed Greek heavy rockers 1000mods have announced their first-ever North American tour dates in the form of a winter, 2018 headlining tour. Set to launch on February 2 in Mexico City, the 29 city major market trek will run through March 5 in Brooklyn, NY, showcasing a group with a worldwide fan base that is hailed for its astute professionalism, resounding hooks and highly energetic live performances. 1000mods will visit North America as part of its current world tour and in support of its most recent album, ‘Repeated Exposure To…’ Support on the 1000mods tour will be provided by Canada’s Sierra and Iowa’s Telekinetic Yeti.

“We feel more than excited to visit America for first time in our career. We have been looking for this for many years and after having amazing connection with our american fans through social media and music platforms, now it’s time to catch us live – the best way to enjoy our music,” says drummer Labros G. We feel also really glad having two amazing up-coming bands with us in order to spread the fuzz!”

1000mods tour dates:
Presented by TheObelisk.net
2/2/2018 Mexico City ME Foro Indie Rocks
2/3/2018 Toluca ME Foro Lando
2/6/2018 Montreal QC Bar Le Ritz^ http://bit.ly/2Aqpgqk
2/7/2018 Ottawa ON Mavericks^ http://bit.ly/2j4JOxy
2/8/2018 Toronto ON Hard Luck^ http://ticketf.ly/2CiUdxM
2/9/2018 Cleveland OH Grog Shop^ http://ticketf.ly/2C9dDEx
2/10/2018 Chicago IL Reggies Rock Club* http://ticketf.ly/2Aqcbgq
2/11/2018 Des Moines IA Vaudeville Mews* http://bit.ly/2jUFx0t
2/12/2018 Minneapolis MN 7th St Entry* http://bit.ly/2j2S0y8
2/13/2018 Kansas City MO Record Bar* http://bit.ly/2AHxJtl
2/14/2018 Denver CO Globe Hall* http://ticketf.ly/2nULHlw
2/15/2018 Salt Lake City UT Metro Music Hall* http://ticketf.ly/2kw6h6G
2/16/2018 Boise ID Shredder* http://bit.ly/2j493zZ
2/17/2018 Seattle WA El Corazon* http://ticketf.ly/2o7bmrl
2/18/2018 Vancouver BC Astoria* http://ticketf.ly/2BnOn0x
2/19/2018 Portland OR Tonic Lounge*
2/20/2018 San Francisco CA Brick and Mortar Music Hall* http://bit.ly/2ktqYjK
2/21/2018 Los Angeles CA Resident DTLA*
2/22/2018 San Diego CA Space* http://ticketf.ly/2CjQoIF
2/23/2018 Phoenix AZ The Rogue* http://ticketf.ly/2AITEAt
2/25/2018 Ft Worth TX Ridglea Theater* http://bit.ly/2yuL56i
2/26/2018 Austin TX Come And Take It Live* http://bit.ly/2zcAlNe
2/27/2018 New Orleans LA Santos Bar* http://bit.ly/2BpvnPf
2/28/2018 Orlando FL Will’s Pub* http://ticketf.ly/2CkWcl9
3/1/2018 Atlanta GA 529* http://bit.ly/2ksY7fu
3/2/2018 Charlottesville VA Champion Brewing* FREE SHOW
3/3/2018 Washington DC Black Cat*
3/4/2018 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie* http://bit.ly/2CiJ4wW
3/5/2018 Brooklyn NY Saint Vitus* http://bit.ly/2zdihml
^ = w/ Sierra
* = w/ Telekinetic Yeti

100mods is:
Dani G. / Bass & Vox
Giannis S. / Guitars
George T. / Guitars
Labros G. / Drums

https://www.facebook.com/1000mods/
https://1000mods.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/1000mods

1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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1000mods Post “Electric Carve” Video; European Tour Begins Tomorrow

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

1000mods

Starting tomorrow, Greek heavy rock forerunners 1000mods hit the road in Europe. Big time. The four-piece from Chiliomodi will be on tour for more than the next month supporting their excellent late-2016 outing, Repeated Exposure To… (review here), which seems only to have picked up momentum following its release and is sure to continue to do so as the band hand-delivers it to cities across the continent, making stops along the way at Riff Ritual FestDesertfest London, Desertfest Berlin and Tubecult Festival for good measure.

To mark their going, 1000mods have a new video for the song “Electric Carve” that, rife with clips of wind-surfing, skating, the band rocking out on a suitably-rocky beach, etc., captures the easy-grooving vibe they’re going for that seems to have caught on in such a huge way across Europe. Greece has produced some killer acts across this now-waning decade and has emerged with one of Europe’s most enviable scenes along with Italy (and of course the mainstays: Germany and Sweden), but I don’t know if anyone from the Hellenic Republic has made quite the same kind of impact as 1000mods, and as they’ve done it on a foundation of quality songwriting and regularly breaking their collective ass on tours like the one they’re about to start, it’s hard to argue with the warm reception they’re getting at this point as being anything other than well-earned.

Bottom line? Keep kicking ass, gents.

The run starts in Bulgaria and finishes in Italy and you can see the complete list of dates under the “Electric Carve” clip below, which I hope you’ll enjoy:

1000mods, “Electric Carve” official video

This is our first video clip!

In collaboration with Jagged Melon Productions and G.N.P. Productions, we want to pay our tribute to all the riders who employ our music throughout these years. Electric carve is dedicated to you!

So grab your board, put your headphones on and hit the road, catch the wind, carve the mountains and the sea! Cheers to all the riders that participated in the video!

CREDITS
Directed by / Themistocles Lambridis
Produced by / Jagged Melon Productions
Assistant Producer / Alex Masmanidis
Filmed by / Steve Kekis, Alex Masmanidis, Konstantinos Kalavrezos, Dimitris Lambridis, Themistocles Lambridis, Meletis Vaxevanidis, Spiros Badios

\ Riders /
Spiros Badios, Stelios Danourdis, Nikos Matsourdelis, Meletis Vaxevanidis, Petros Martinos, Vasilis Glitsis, Lykourgos Neofotistos, Steve Kekis, Alex Masmanidis, Soulis, Dirty South Crew.

Sound of Liberation and Ouga Booga & the Mighty Oug Touring present:
1000mods – Repeated and Exposed To – European Tour 2017

23/03/2017 – SOFIA, BG | MIXTAPE5
24/03/2017 – BUCHAREST, RO | FABRICA
25/03/2017 – CLUJ NAPOCA, RO | SHELTER ((SOLD OUT))
26/03/2017 – TIMISOARA, RO | DAOS CLUB
28/03/2017 – BEOGRAD, RS | ELEKTROPIONIR
29/03/2017 – NOVI SAD, RS | THE QUARTER
30/03/2017 – ZUPANJA, HR | MKC
31/03/2017 – TBA
01/04/2017 – MUNICH, DE | UNDER THE BLACK MOON
02/04/2017 – LEIPSIG, DE | WERK 2
03/04/2017 – PRAGUE, CZ | KLUB 007
04/04/2017 – BUDAPEST, HU | DURER KERT
05/04/2017 – ZAGREB, HR | VINTAGE INDUSTRIAL BAR
06/04/2017 – INNSBRUCK, AT | PMK
07/04/2017 – NUREMBERG, DE | MUZ
08/04/2017 – CHEMNITZ, DE | AJZ
09/04/2017 – OSNABRUCK, DE | BASTARD CLUB
10/04/2017 – HAMBURG, DE | HAFFENKANG
11/04/2017 – AMSTERDAM, NL | WINSTON KINGDOM
12/04/2017 – KARLSRUHE, DE | ALTE HACKEREI
13/04/2017 – FREIBURG, DE | SLOW CLUB
14/04/2017 – OLTEN, CH | COC d’OR
15/04/2017 – WINTERTHUR, CH | GASWERK
17/04/2017 – SAN SEBASTIAN, ES | DABADABA
18/04/2017 – GIJON, ES | SALA ACAPOULCO
19/04/2017 – PORTO, PT | CAVE45
20/04/2017 – LISBON, PT | RCA CLUB
21/04/2017 – MADRID, ES | WURLITZER BALLROOM
22/04/2017 – BARCELONA, ES | RIFF RITUAL FEST
23/04/2017 – MONTPELLIER, FR | BLACK SHEEP
24/04/2017 – GENEVE, CH | KALVINGRAD
25/04/2017 – COLMAR, FR | GRILLEN
26/04/2017 – TBA
27/04/2017 – PARIS, FR | PETIT BAIN
28/04/2017 – LONDON, UK | DESERTFEST LONDON
29/04/2017 – DEVENTER, NL | BURGERWEESHUIS
30/04/2017 – BERLIN, DE | DESERTFEST BERLIN
03/05/2017 – TRIESTE, IT | TETRIS
04/05/2017 – TORINO, IT | BLAH BLAH
05/05/2017 – PISA, IT | ALBATROSS
06/05/2017 – PESCARA, IT | TUBECULT FESTIVAL
07/05/2017 – BARI, IT | ARCI OPEN SOURCE

100mods is:
Dani G. / Bass & Vox
Giannis S. / Guitars
George T. / Guitars
Labros G. / Drums

1000mods tour event page

1000mods on Thee Facebooks

1000mods on Instagram

1000mods on Bandcamp

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1000mods Announce Massive European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

1000mods

I consider anything over three weeks a long tour. 1000mods will nearly double that standard beginning on Thursday, March 23, as they head out on a massive round of European tour dates supporting last year’s Repeated Exposure To… (review here). Their third album, it was a watershed moment for them as well as for Greece’s heavy rock scene, which has become among the most vibrant in the Euro underground, with 1000mods very much at the fore as a lead for other groups to follow. The band spent much of last fall bouncing between fests, and they’ll do likewise this time around, hitting Desertfest London 2017, Desertfest Berlin 2017, Under the Black Moon and Riff Ritual along their way, as you can see in the update below.

One really hopes these guys enjoy spending time together, because they’re going to be doing a lot of it. Too bad they already put out an album called Super Van Vacation (it was in 2011; review here), because a tour like this seems like a prime opportunity to make a live record and that’s the perfect title for one.

Shows are presented by Sound of Liberation. Dig:

1000mods euro tour dates

1000mods – Repeated and Exposed Tour 2017

As promised: We are getting back on the European roads for a headline tour this time, in order to promote our latest album “Repeated exposure to…”.

We are really happy to visit a lot of cities for the first time and some cities that we haven’t visited since 2014. We are also proud to include a lot of amazing festivals like Desertfest London, DesertFest Berlin, Under The Black Moon 2017 in Munich and Riff Ritual Festival in Barcelona.

Dates:
23.03 – Sofia, BG
24.03 – Bucharest, RO
25.03 – Cluj, RO
26.03 – Timisoara, RO
28.03 – Beograd, RS
29.03 – Novisad, RS
01.04 – Munich, DE
02.04 – Leipzig, DE
03.04 – Prague, CZ
04.04 – Budapest, HU
05.04 – Zagreb, HR
06.04 – Innsbruck, AT
07.04 – Nuremberg, DE
08.04 – Chemnitz, DE
09.04 – Osnabruck, DE
10.04 – TBA
11.04 – Amsterdam, NL
12.04 – Karlsruhe, DE
13.04 – Freiburg, DE
14.04 – Olten, CH
15.04 – Winterthur, CH
17.04 – San Sebastian, ES
18.04 – Gijon, ES
19.04 – Porto, PT
20.04 – Lisbon, PT
21.04 – Madrid, ES
22.04 – Barcelona, ES
23.04 – TBA
24.04 – Geneve, CH
25.04 – Cojmar, FR
26.04 – TBA
27.04 – Paris, FR
28.04 – London, UK
29.04 – Deventer, NL
30.04 – Berlin, DE
03.05 – Trieste,IT
04.05 – Torino, IT
05.05 – Pisa, IT
06.05 – Pescara, IT
07.05 – Bari, IT

Some more dates to be announced soon!
Powered by Sound of Liberation UG and Ouga Booga & the Mighty Oug

100mods is:
Dani G. / Bass & Vox
Giannis S. / Guitars
George T. / Guitars
Labros G. / Drums

https://www.facebook.com/1000mods/
https://1000mods.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/1000mods

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2016

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 30

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

I say this every year: These are my picks. If you’re unfamiliar with this site, or you don’t come here that often, or if you do and just normally don’t give a crap — all of which is cool — you should know it’s all run by one person. One human being. Me. My name is JJ, and this is a list of what I think are the best albums that were released in 2016.

Since before 2016 began, I’ve kept a running list of releases. My criteria for what gets included in this list is largely unchanged — it’s a balance between what I feel are important records on the level of what they achieve, what I listened to most, what held some other personal appeal, and what I think did the best job of meeting the goals it set for itself. Pretty vague, right? That’s the idea.

The nature of worldwide heavy has become so broad that to encompass it all under some universal standard is laughable. Judging psychedelia, garage rock, heavy psych, doom, sludge and so on by the same measure makes no sense, and as genres continue to splinter and remake themselves as we’ve seen them doing all year and over the last several years, one must be malleable in one’s own taste. We’ve seen a new generation of heavy rock bands emerge in the last three-plus years. It’s been amazing, and there are a few pivotal second and third records that came out in 2016 to affirm that movement underway. Look for it to continue into 2017 and beyond.

This year more than any other seemed to want to bring the different sides together. A laudable goal. Thick riffing marked with flourish of psychedelia. Spacious doom bred against folk impulses. There’s been experimentation around melds that have led to considerable triumphs, and it just doesn’t seem to me that rigid standards can apply. It’s why I don’t grade reviews and never did.

Sound is evolving now as it always has been and as it will keep doing, but like any year, 2016 had a full share of landmarks to offer as a part of that process. As universal development hopefully remains ongoing, it’s only right that we celebrate the accomplishments helping to push it along its winding and sometimes divergent-seeming paths.

I have no doubt you know what I mean. Let’s get to the list:

30. Talmud Beach, Chief

talmud beach chief

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

Seems only fair to start with a record I couldn’t put down. Finnish trio Talmud Beach‘s second album and Svart debut, Chief, hit on just the right blend of laid back, semi-acoustic groove-blues, psychedelia and classic progressive folk rock, but with the exception of its sprawling dreamscape title-track (a welcome arrival at the finale), it also kept the songwriting simple, resulting in a natural, pastoral feel that only highlighted their melodic range in songs like “Mountain Man” and “Snow Snow Snow.” I think it flew under a lot of people’s radar, but I’ve kept going back to it over the course of the year and I see no reason to stop.

29. Comet Control, Center of the Maze

comet control center of the maze

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed June 22.

Space is still the place. I’ve already highlighted closer “Artificial Light” from Comet Control‘s sophomore LP, Center of the Maze as my favorite song of 2016, so I’ll spare you the longwinded treatise on its languid cosmic glories — this time — but consider this a reminder that that song was by no means the limit of what the eight-track release had to offer in terms of breadth. From the opening push of “Dig out Your Head” to the dream-drift of “Sick in Space,” it unfolded tonal presence and a melodic depth that engaged a gorgeous, multifaceted sonic wash as it moved onward toward that landmark conclusion.

28. Droids Attack, Sci-Fi or Die

droids attack sci-fi or die

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 17.

There was not a level on which Madison, Wisconsin’s Droids Attack didn’t make it clear they were going all-out, all-in on Sci-Fi or Die. Even the title speaks to the stakes involved. And sure enough, the trio executed their fourth album with a sense of urgency and professionalism in songcraft, production, artwork (discussed here) and nuance of presentation that managed to make even a song called “Clawhammer Suicide” a classy affair. As guitarist/vocalist Brad Van said on the hidden title-track, “Death to false stoner thrash.” Droids Attack brought that ethic and more to life across the entire record.

27. Beelzefuzz, The Righteous Bloom

beelzefuzz the righteous bloom

Released by Restricted Release and The Church Within. Reviewed Aug. 2.

A winding road brought Beelzefuzz around to following up their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and as The Righteous Bloom brought guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt and drummer Darin McCloskey together with bassist Bert Hall and lead guitarist Greg Diener, it found their songwriting more expansive, more progressive and dug further into their own particular oddball sense of grandeur. I’ve said on multiple occasions that no one out there is doing what Beelzefuzz are doing and that continues to be true. Even as a first offering from a new lineup of the band, The Righteous Bloom took bold and exciting forward steps.

26. Foghound, The World Unseen

foghound the world unseen

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed July 6.

Down to business. Immediately. Not a moment to spare. Taking part in what can only be considered a landmark year for Ripple Music, Baltimore’s Foghound issued The World Unseen as an answer to their 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), and upped their game across the board. From the intensity in the hooks of “Message in the Sky” and Rockin’ and Rollin'” to the quiet interlude of “Bridge of Stonebows” and the mid-paced heavy rock nod of “Never Return,” they made a strong case for themselves among their label’s foremost acts and found individualism in the growth of their songwriting. It was a kick in the ass you weren’t going to forget.

25a. Egypt, Endless Flight

egypt endless flight

Released by Doomentia Records. Reviewed Dec. 11, 2015.

Put out by the band digitally in Dec. 2015 and issued on vinyl in 2016, Egypt‘s second LP, Endless Flight may be somewhat debatable in terms of when it actually landed (hence “25a.,” above), but the quality of the six-tracker more than warrants inclusion anyway. Rolling dense, massively-fuzzed groove, its nine-minute opening title-track set the course for the Fargo, North Dakota, three-piece, and they only grew the heavy revelry from there, as heard on the penultimate “Black Words,” which seemed to be chewing on rocks even as it played back and forth in tempo, build and push. The converted never had it so good.

25. 1000mods, Repeated Exposure To…

1000mods repeated exposure to

Released by Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings. Reviewed Sept. 20.

There seems to be no stopping the Chiliomodi-based 1000mods, who with their third album have stepped to the forefront of Greece’s populous and vibrant heavy rock underground. Progressed well beyond where even 2014’s impressive Vultures (review here) found them, they seemed to hit a stride with Repeated Exposure To… thanks in part to road time and the ability to bring that energy directly into songs like the eight-minute roller “Loose” and the sizable crashes of “Groundhog Day.” Momentum working in their favor could be heard front-to-back from “Above 179” to “Into the Spell,” moving them toward something ever-more crucial and marking a considerable achievement along that path. 2017 might be a good time for them to test the waters with initial US shows.

24. Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy

black rainbows stellar prophecy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 11.

Quick turnaround from Roman heavy psych magnate Gabriele Fiori (guitar/vocals) and company, but though it hit just about 13 months after their fourth full-length, Hawkdope (review here), Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy wholly succeeded in making an impact of its own, cuts like the oozing, organ-laced “Woman” and 11-minute jam-out triumph “Golden Widow” showcasing an approach in a continuous state of refinement that seems to get rawer as it goes, shifting like a rogue planetoid toward some maddening cosmic realization. How something can seem both so frenetic and so blissful is still a mystery, and perhaps that’s part of what makes Stellar Prophecy resonate as it does, but either way, Black Rainbows brought together some of the year’s most efficient psychedelic immersion.

23. Borracho, Atacama

borracho atacama

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Nov. 14.

Borracho don’t seem to release an album until they have something to say. That was to their credit on Atacama, their third LP and label debut for Kozmik Artifactz debut. Also their second collection issued as a trio behind 2013’s Oculus (review here), it distinguished itself from its predecessor in its sense of overarching flow, shifting between the ahead-thrust of “Gold from Sand” into the 10-minute sample-laden jam “Overload” to start out with such ease that the listener had little choice but to follow along. With an expanded scope on “Drifted away from the Sun” and the lightly-strummed memento mori “Flower,” Borracho found new avenues of expression to complement their well established dense, heavy riffing, and took obvious care in crafting their most realized LP yet.

22. The Golden Grass, Coming Back Again

the golden grass coming back again

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed April 26.

Nothing Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass does feels like happenstance, and though their classic-styled boogie is imbued with a vibrant, friendly positive energy, there’s an underlying meticulousness in their arrangements and in their songwriting that came further into focus on Coming Back Again, their sophomore release 2014’s self-titled debut (review here). A more progressive take showed itself in “Reflections” and “Down the Line,” and taken in combination with the bookends “Get it Together” and “See it Through,” the three-piece stood on ground that was even more their own than on the first record, striking a careful balance between the willful exploration of new elements and the outright need for tracks to directly engage their listeners with catchy hooks and upbeat vibes. They did it. Expect continued growth.

21. Curse the Son, Isolator

curse the son isolator

Released by Snake Charmer Coalition and The Company Records. Reviewed March 1.

For something so awash in fuzz, so nodding in its rhythms, so let’s-push-the-vocals-back-under-this-huge-awesome-fucking-riff, Curse the Son‘s Isolator was also remarkably clearheaded in its purposes. With the added vocal harmonies of “Callous Unemotional Traits,” the far-off spaces of “Hull Crush Depth” and the stoner metal despair of “Aislamiento,” the Connecticut three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore, capital-‘d’ Drummer Michael Petrucci and newcomer bassist Brendan Keefe drew a direct, intentional line to sometimes-grueling (hello, “Sleepwalker Wakes”) weighted tonality and found justification for their largesse in its own being. Like 2012’s Psychache (review here), I expect to be returning to Isolator over a longer term than this single year of release.

20. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires

neurosis fires within fires

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I feel like I need to explain myself here. Make no mistake, NeurosisFires Within Fires is among the year’s most accomplished offerings. There’s just about no way it wouldn’t be. So why not top 10? Top five? It’s a question of timing. With the long-running post-metal progenitors, it’s always a longer digestion period. It was about two years before 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) really sunk in, and I expect Fires Within Fires will work similarly over the greater term. Maybe a little guilt on my part for the disparity between its quality and its placement, but rest assured, Neurosis remain among the most imperative bands walking the earth, and as they took on the full brunt of 30 years of unmitigated progression through Fires Within Fires, they were no less brazen in pushing themselves creatively than they’ve ever been.

19. Conan, Revengeance

conan revengeance

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 19.

Though the narrative of Conan has remained largely unchanged since their inception — hack, slash, kill, riff — and they still bask in nigh-on-unmatched tonal slaughter, their third full-length brings a few key developments. Perhaps most notable from opener “Throne of Fire” onward is the vocal interplay between guitarist/founder Jon Davis and bassist/longtime-engineer Chris Fielding, who joined after 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here). Adding Fielding‘s deeper growls allowed Davis to subtly move into a cleaner shout, and the emergent dynamic between them made Revengeance a decidedly expanded affair compared to Conan‘s past work. Adding drummer Rich Lewis to the mix was no minor shift either, and as much as Conan had already established their sheer dominance, they also sounded refreshed and set themselves up to keep growing.

18. Baby Woodrose, Freedom

baby woodrose freedom

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Aug. 18.

Some records just feel like gifts, and though many of its lyrical positions were cynical — “Reality,” “21st Century Slave,” “Mind Control Machine,” “Red the Sign Post,” etc. — Freedom marked the 15th anniversary of Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose with dripping lysergic aplomb, reminding some four years after their last LP, 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here), that bandleader Lorenzo Woodrose is unparalleled when it comes to manifesting his take on the psychedelic victories of 13th Floor Elevators and classic-era Hawkwind — firmly at home levitating on the edge of time. Its swirl and underlying foundation of songwriting, its Richie Havens cover title-track, and its sprawling interstellar “Termination” were like a welcome check-in from another dimension, and I only hope it’s not four years before Woodrose sends the next signal. Earth needs this band.

17. Geezer, Geezer

geezer geezer

Released by Ripple Music and STB Records. Reviewed Nov. 10.

I’m not going to discount the shuffle of “Sunday Speed Demon” or sleeze of “Sunday Speed Demon,” but where Geezer‘s self-titled third full-length really showed how far the New York heavy blues-psych trio have come was in its extended midsection jams, “Sun Gods,” “Bi-Polar Vortex” and “Dust,” each of which showed a distinct approach while feeding into an engaging flow between them, offering a blend of trailmarker hooks as they drifted into realms of organic chemistry previously uncharted by the band. The slow-motion swing of “Hangnail Crisis,” raucous push of “Superjam Maximus” and concluding bounce of “Stoney Pony” brought them back down to earth to finish out with a symmetry to the album’s opening, but Geezer kept a collective hand on the controls the whole voyage and when they landed, it was an arrival indeed, and very much what their two previous records were building toward.

16. EYE, Vision and the Ageless Light

eye vision and the ageless light

Released by The Laser’s Edge. Reviewed Nov. 17.

Beautifully experimental with its 27-minute finisher “As Sure as the Sun,” EYE‘s Vision and the Ageless Light seemed throughout its whole 46-minute run to be executing a cohesive vision in its synth-soaked progressive textures. Between the intro “Book of the Dead” and the subsequent “Kill the Slavemaster,” “Searching,” “Dweller of the Twilight Void” and the already-noted closer, each piece had something different to offer that added to the full impact of the whole, and with guitarist Jon Finely and bassist Michael Sliclen joining founding drummer/vocalist Brandon Smith and synth/Mellotron/Moog-ist Lisa Bella Donna (also vocals and acoustic guitar), EYE added to the scope of 2013’s Second Sight (review here) and found a place for themselves where prog complexity didn’t need to come at the expense of memorable songwriting and spaced-out vibes. An absolute joy, front to back.

15. Fatso Jetson, Idle Hands

fatso jetson idle hands

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Even Fatso Jetson themselves would probably have to admit that six years — even a six years that saw several splits, singles, etc. — was too long between albums. Fortunately, Idle Hands saw the desert rock forebears in top form as regards their quirk-fueled songwriting, angular approach to punk and inimitable groove. Following 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here) was no easy task, but with additional depth to the material from the contributions of guitarist Dino von Lalli — son of founding guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli and nephew of founding bassist Larry Lalli — guest spots from his sister Olive Lalli as well as Sean Wheeler (the latter moves second cut “Portuguese Dream” into high-echelon strangeness) and the ever-propulsive drumming of Tony Tornay, Fatso Jetson were both all over the place and right at the core of where they most ought to be sonically. At 56 minutes, it hardly seemed long enough.

14. Hexvessel, When We are Death

hexvessel when we are death

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Feb. 5.

Each song was like a different persona the band adopted momentarily, whether it was the Bowie-goes-proto-goth-prog of organ-ic opener “Transparent Eyeball” or the grim pastoralia of “Mirror Boy” and the condemnations/proclamations of “Drugged up on the Universe,” but wherever Hexvessel went on their third full-length and Century Media debut, When We are Death, that unifying theme went with them. Death. It was everywhere in the Finland-based genre-benders’ deeply varied approach, though its presence made their material in no way off-putting, and in the case of cuts like “Cosmic Truth” or the later “Mushroom Spirit Doors,” not even dark, and as it drew the tracks together despite working in different sounds and style, it became apparent that When We are Death worked because of a universal quality in songwriting and presentation allowing for such drastic shifts without any risk of losing the audience.

13. Zun, Burial Sunrise

zun burial sunrise

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed Feb. 16.

Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce — a key figure in the development of desert rock and a player of unmatched tone, period — had quite a year, between Zun‘s Burial Sunrise, his main outfit and his collaboration with Fatso Jetson vs. HifiKlub, but it was the dreamscape drift of songs like “Come Through the Water” and “All that You Say I Am” as well as the subtle hooks of “Into the Wasteland” and “All for Nothing” that, for me, made this the highlight. Sure, bringing in vocalists Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini, Black Mare) and John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, Slo Burn, Vista Chino, etc.) and having them swap back and forth between the tracks didn’t hurt either, but the wash of ethereal presence in Arce‘s guitar was an excellent showcase for his patience and improvisational sensibilities, and the spaces Burial Sunrise covered seemed to have an infinite horizon all their own. Will hope for a follow-up, will hope Garcia and Timms return, and will hope for a duet.

12. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree

elephant tree elephant tree

Released by Magnetic Eye Records. Reviewed Jan. 29.

One had reasonably high expectations for the debut full-length from London’s Elephant Tree after their 2014 EP Theia (review here) so deftly blended spacious, sitar-laced heavy psychedelic rock with more visceral sludge impulses — a difficult mix to pull off — but I think it would’ve been impossible to see the quality of this self-titled outing coming in any substantive way. Gone were the screams, in was a depth of tone and nigh-on-perfect tempo — see “Dawn” and “Aphotic Blues,” as well as the acoustic “Circles” between them — and where some first albums have a kind of tentative, feeling-it-out vibe, guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley (interview here), bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, drummer Sam Hart and sitarist/vocalist/engineer Riley MacIntyre took utter command of the proceedings. They won’t have the element of surprise working for them next time, but as Elephant Tree made perfectly clear in its biggest surprise of all, neither do they need it.

11. Mos Generator, Abyssinia

mos generator abyssinia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed July 12.

If you were to ask me to summarize in one word the last four-plus years of Mos Generator‘s tenure, since their reactivation with 2012’s Nomads (review here) and the subsequent lineup changes and hard-touring that followed 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), I’d say “go.” I might say it three times: Go-go-go. One of three LP-ish offerings out this year, the studio album Abyssinia embodied this ethic as it started with immediate momentum on “Strangest Times” and “You’ve Got a Right” and seemed to push itself into new ground as it went. Guitarist/vocalist/founder Tony Reed brought heavy boogie to bear at a frenetic clip, but Abyssinia offset its early mania with later progressive stylization on “There’s No Return from Nowhere,” “Time and Other Thieves” and harmonized closer “Outlander,” so that in addition to representing their furious creativity, it also brought them to places they’ve never been before in sound.

10. Slomatics, Future Echo Returns

slomatics future echo returns

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed June 29.

In some ways, Future Echo Returns was simply picking up where Belfast’s Slomatics left off with 2014’s Estron (review here), as heard on the riff of lead-in track “Estronomicon,” but as the third in a purported trilogy following that record and 2012’s A Hocht, it also brought the tonecrushing three-piece to Skyhammer Studio to work with producer Chris Fielding (Conan) and presented a linear storyline that, while rife with standout moments in cuts like “Electric Breath,” the ambient “Ritual Beginnings” and ultra-catchy “Supernothing,” found a genuine sense of resolution in the finale “Into the Eternal” that spoke to the scope the entire work was meant to represent — not just itself, but an entirety spanning three albums. Not a minor feat, but what also made Future Echo Returns so resonant was how well the material stood on its own, so that even without the narrative context, it was immersive, hypnotic and unbridled in its heft.

9. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh

wo fat midnight cometh

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 21.

After two landmarks issued by Small Stone in 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here), Texas forerunners of riff Wo Fat gave a concise rundown of their appeal in the six-track Ripple debut and sixth LP overall, Midnight Cometh. Their ongoing development as found them bringing together a two-sided personality of memorable songs and open, fluid jams, and cuts like “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” emphasized the next stage of this process, while the shuffling “Riffborn” and swaggering blues rock of “La Dilleme de Detenu” gave listeners a chance to touch ground every now and again. Over the last two-plus years, Wo Fat have become a point of influence for other, particularly American, acts — see labelmates Geezer — and Midnight Cometh assured that will be the case going forward too; a status well-earned.

8. King Buffalo, Orion

king buffalo orion

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed July 29.

Offered up this summer as a limited self-release and picked up by no less than Stickman Records (Motorpsycho, Elder), Orion might be the most molten inclusion on this list. It’s also my pick for 2016 Debut of the Year, and to hear cuts like “She Sleeps on a Vine,” “Kerosene,” the sprawling closer “Drinking from the River Rising,” or even just to take the whole record front-to-back, which was clearly how the band intended it be experienced, there’s just about no competition in that regard that stands up. The Rochester, NY, three-piece showed marked promise on their 2013 demo (review here) and 2015 split with Lé Betre (review here), but the listenability of Orion — which earned every single one of its repeat visits — made it a triumph on a different level entirely, and distinguished King Buffalo as a formidable presence in the sphere of US heavy psychedelia, fostering a sound no less soulful for its outward cosmic reach and to-be-measured-in-lightyears scale of potential.

7. Wight, Love is Not Only What You Know

wight love is not only what you know

Released by Fat and Holy Records, Kozmik Artifactz, Import Export Music and SPV. Reviewed Sept. 7.

German outfit Wight answered significant anticipation on their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know, some four years after 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here) and undertook a significant evolution in sound. A transition from a trio to a four-piece and adding a strong current of funk to their heavy psych groove and boogie resulted in cuts like “The Muse and the Mule,” the jammed-out “Kelele” and “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation,” which were as danceable as they were nod-ready, and when complemented by shorter classic rockers like “Helicopter Mama” and “I Wanna Know What You Feel” (still plenty funky) and the Eastern-tinged interlude “Three Quarters,” gave Love is Not Only What You Know scope to match its ass-shaking encouragement. It was a spirit unto itself among 2016 releases, but ultimately, the key to understanding the record was right there in the title: It was all about love, and wherever Wight went in a given track, they never lost sight of that.

6. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow

greenleaf rise above the meadow

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 18.

A decade and a half after 2001’s Revolution Rock (discussed here), Sweden’s Greenleaf most embodied that ethic with Rise Above the Meadow, their sixth long-player and Napalm Records debut. 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) represented the key step of founding guitarist Tommi Holappa (interview here) bringing vocalist Arvid Johnsson into the lineup, but Rise Above the Meadow built exponentially on what that album achieved, bolstered by work as a touring band and a revitalized songwriting process heard in “Howl,” “A Million Fireflies,” “You’re Gonna be My Ruin,” the stomping “Golden Throne” and “Tyrants Tongue,” among others. I refuse to discount the quality of Trails and Passes, 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) or 2007’s landmark Agents of Ahriman (review here), but as Greenleaf shifted toward a style more reminiscent of Holappa‘s later output with Dozer, they also seemed to stake their claim on the forefront of European heavy rock and roll, which was just waiting for them to do so.

5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil

brant bjork tao of the devil

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 15.

Perhaps the most believable lyric of 2016 was the opening line of leadoff cut “The Gree Heen” from Brant Bjork‘s Tao of the Devil: “I got all that I need. I got the gree-heen.” From the prominent pot leaf on the cover to that single clause — which set the tone for that song’s mega-nod as much as everything that followed in the boogie of “Humble Pie” and “Stackt,” the so-laid-back-it’s-almost-unconscious title-track and the longer-form explorations of “Dave’s War” and the wah’ed-out “Evening Jam” — the inimitable Bjork seems to have embraced the role of stoner guru and the Godfather of Desert Rock. Tao of the Devil was his second release through Napalm behind 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), which introduced the Low Desert Punk Band, and far from hanging its hat on the man’s historical accomplishments from his days in KyussFu ManchuCheVista Chino, etc., the 50-minute eight-tracker came fueled by the soul most typified in Bjork‘s solo catalog, which it’s increasingly easy to argue is his greatest contribution to the desert aesthetic. Definitely in his wheelhouse, but what a wheelhouse.

4. Asteroid, III

asteroid iii

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed Oct. 21.

What a relief it was to have Asteroid back, and what a relief it was to have III arrive some six years after II (review here) and find the Örebro, Sweden, trio’s certified-organic chemistry undulled by that long stretch. The songs — “Pale Moon,” “Last Days,” “Til Dawn,” “Wolf and Snake,” “Silver and Gold,” “Them Calling,” “Mr. Strange” — there wasn’t a miss in the bunch, and in addition to the reignited craftsmanship, III made clear a progression as players and the intent to move forward from guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson and drummer Elvis Campbell (since replaced by Jimmi Kolscheen), so that the material didn’t just let listeners know Asteroid was a band again after having unceremoniously faded out for a half-decade, but gave a signal that perhaps they were just getting started. One can only hope that turns out to be the case, but either way, III felt like a reward dolled out to their fanbase after a long absent stretch, and one that, like II and their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) before it, will reverberate its echoes for years to come. Hands down 2016’s most welcome return.

3. Gozu, Revival

gozu revival

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 19.

Though it would carry the context of its scorching opener “Nature Boy” with it for the duration and, accordingly, hit with a more intense feel than its 2013 predecessor, The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), Gozu‘s fourth album overall and Ripple label debut was a kick in the ass on more than just that one level. It found the Boston foursome with the finally-solidified lineup of vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard, and while one could argue they still wound up under the banner of a heavy rock band, that became happenstance to the songs themselves. That is, even more than The Fury of a Patient Man or 2010’s Locust Season (review here), Gozu came across as writing not to style, but to their own impulses, as demonstrated in “Big Casino,” the echoing soul of “Tin Chicken” and shuffle-thrust of “Oldie,” and as they moved beyond their initial swath of influence into this individualized sonic persona, they reaped the benefits of the locked-in lineup and a process of craft that never sounded so purposeful. Revival was indeed typified by its vitality, but it was also the sound of a band maturing as a unit, becoming who they were meant to be, and there is almost nothing more exciting than that for a single album to represent. Plus, it had a song called “By Mennen,” and, you know, references.

2. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)

mars red sky apex iii praise for the burning soul

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Feb. 24.

It was unreasonable to expect the third full-length from Bordeaux, France, trio Mars Red Sky to surpass 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here) and the progressive crux that album brought to the warm tones and sweet melodicism of their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) reinforced the elements that worked so well on previous outings while pushing inarguably onto what the band seemed to know was “Alien Ground” if the title of their intro was anything to go by. More over, it did so with a natural fluidity and poise that were as striking as they were encompassing in sound. Tying to earlier 2016’s Providence EP (review here) in concept and execution through that intro and the title-track following it, Apex III presented the to-date pinnacle of Mars Red Sky‘s growth in songs like “The Whinery,” “Mindreader,” the tear-inducing “Under the Hood,” the swing-happy “Friendly Fire,” the willful atmospheric crash of closer “Prodigal Sun” — each one a crucial advancing step from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and brilliantly fed them one into the other, so that in addition to the standout impressions of each, there developed a personality to the whole span of the album; a world of Mars Red Sky‘s own creation, where they dwelt for what seemed too short a time before returning to earth and on from here to who knows where next.

1. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages

subrosa for this we fought the battle of ages

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Most of all, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages was fearless. For their fourth album, Salt Lake City’s SubRosa adapted themes from 1924’s We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which laid out a futuristic dystopia wherein all identity is subsumed to the state and even love is outlawed when not properly sanctioned. This framework, obscure if influential, gave guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinist/vocalist Sarah Pendleton, violinist/backing vocalist Kim Pack, bassist/vocalist Levi Hanna, drummer/engineer Andy Patterson (formerly of Iota, among others), and a range of other contributors, a space in which to explore gender and LGBT issues across the six included tracks, and from the opening build and crush of the chorus to “Despair is a Siren” through the depiction of privilege in “Wound of the Warden,” the 97-second Italian-language ballad “Il Cappio” (translated: “the noose”) and into the gut-wrenching finale of “Troubled Cells,” their musical accomplishment was no less stunning than lyrics like, “Isn’t it good to be acquainted with darkness?/To caress it gently/To slit its throat,” from “Black Majesty.” Tense in its quiet stretches, harmonized vocally, given orchestral presence through its use of strings, flute, French horn, and so on, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages worked fluidly in what for most acts would be a contradictory modus of careful, meticulous arrangements and raw, emotional realism. No matter how deep it dove — and by the time identity was being erased and the state was taking control of the body on “Killing Rapture,” it was diving pretty deep — SubRosa never lost their sense of poise, so that the defiance in the last movement of “Troubled Cells” in which Heaven itself is rejected with the clearest of justifications, “Paradise is a lie if you’re not by my side,” the band seemed to stand as straight and tall as their multi-tiered righteousness would warrant. But even if one took For this We Fought the Battle of Ages with politics aside, its achievement in marrying post-metallic structures, gothic texture and progressive atmospherics was on a plane of its own making, operating under its own rules and in its own definitive space. Albums like it do not happen every year, and forward motion for genre as a whole is rarely so visible as it was in this special offering, which seems only fair to regard as a landmark for the band and anyone whose ears and hearts it touched.

The Next 20

Like any good Top 30, mine goes to 50. Here is the next batch:

31. Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors
32. Truckfighters, V
33. West, Space & Love, Vol. II
34. Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts
35. Yawning Man, Historical Graffiti
36. Causa Sui, Return to Sky
37. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
38. Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Phantomonium
39. The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
40. It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting
41. Beastwars, The Death of all Things
42. Naxatras, II
43. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
44. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
45. Wretch, Wretch
46. Colour Haze, Live Vol. I: Europa Tournee 2015
47. Zaum, Eidolon
48. Bellringer, Jettison
49. Young Hunter, Young Hunter
50. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Y Proffwyd Dwyll

From the kinetic desert artistry of Blaak Heat to Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s ethereal synth-laden doom, there are more than a few essentials here. I’ve never before done a year-end list that had so many releases on it, but my motivation in doing so this time around couldn’t have been simpler: They were simply too good and had too much to offer to leave out. It would’ve been an oversight to do so.

Honorable Mentions

Even a Top 50 fails to grasp the full scope of what 2016 brought about musically, so here are even more, alphabetically:

Ancient Warlocks, II
Black Moon Circle, Sea of Clouds
Sergio Ch., Aurora
Lamp of the Universe, Hidden Knowledge
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light
Øresund Space Collective, Visions Of…
-(16)-, Lifespan of a Moth
Spidergawd, III
The Well, Pagan Science
Wovenhand, Star Treatment

And if that’s still not enough, here are 60-plus more names who shouldn’t be left out of the discussion, also alphabetically:

Akris, Atala, Atomikylä, Backwoods Payback, Beastmaker, BigPig, Black Cobra, Black Lung, Blood Ceremony, Blues Pills, Bright Curse, Bus, Dee Calhoun, Captain Crimson, Child, La Chinga, Church of Misery, Conclave, Cough, Devil to Pay, Domkraft, Dot Legacy, Electric Citizen, Estoner, Eternal Elysium, Fatso Jetson & Gary Arce vs. Hifiklub, Fox 45, Goatess, Goblin Cock, Graves at Sea, Heavy Temple (they’ll be back on next year’s list), High Fighter, Holy Serpent, Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Inter Arma, Joy, Kaleidobolt, Khemmis, King Dead, Lord, Lord Vicar, Merchant, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Helen Money, Monkey3, Moon Coven, Mother Mooch, Necro, New Keepers of the Water Towers, T.G. Olson, Oranssi Pazuzu, Pooty Owldom, Russian Circles, Salem’s Pot, Samavayo, Seremonia, Skuggsjá, Sourvein, Spirit Adrift, Stone Machine Electric, Suma, Surya Kris Peters, Swans, Throttlerod, Virus, Wasted Theory, Wretch, and Zaum.

Thank You

In case none of the above has made it clear, I’ll just say flat out that 2016 has been an amazing year for music, and that every time I feel like maybe underground heavy has hit a wall and there’s nowhere left for it to go, sure enough about three minutes later another record shows up that slaps me in the face with a reminder of just how wrong that notion is.

If you’re still reading — how could you be? — thank you so much for your incredible support throughout 2016 and all the years The Obelisk has been in progress. I already know that 2017 is going to bring some incredible music as well, but that’s another list for another time, so I’ll just say again how much I appreciate your being a part of this ongoing project, how much it means to me to have you here. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

And please, if there’s anything I forgot, got wrong, misspelled, or if you just think I used the word “breadth” too many times, please let me know about it in the comments.

One more time: Thank you.

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1000mods, Repeated Exposure To…: Potential for Lasting Effects (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

1000mods-repeated-exposure-to

[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘Loose’ by 1000mods. Repeated Exposure To… is out on CD/DL Sept. 26 with vinyl Oct. 30 via Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings.]

With their third full-length, Repeated Exposure To…, Greece’s 1000mods affirm their place at the head of the pack of European heavy rock and roll. I mean that without qualification. Not just Greek heavy, but Europe as a whole. They were already leaders in their home country after their 2014 offering, Vultures (review here), which followed their 2012 Valley of Sand EP (discussed here), their 2011 debut LP, Super Van Vacation (review here), 2009’s Liquid Sleep EP (review here), and their first short release, Blank Reality, which came out in 2006, but a full decade later, the Chiliomodi four-piece have become bona fide masters of the form.

Released through their own Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug RecordingsRepeated Exposure To… derives its name from the photo on its cover, the warning on the tube amp that reads, “Warning! Repeated exposure to high sound levels (more than 80 decibels) may cause permanent impairing of hearing.” And so it might. Nonetheless, for 1000mods, one might take that as a credo under which they’re operating throughout the album as a whole.

Repeated Exposure To… runs at eight tracks/51 minutes and is easily the band’s most realized offering yet, produced and mixed by themselves with George Leodis and mastered by Brad Boatright with a crisp feel that demonstrates the professionalism they’ve hard won over the course of the last several years on the road throughout Europe, making their name internationally and coming to fully represent not only the vibrancy of Greece’s well-populated underground, but their own take on classic riff-driven songwriting, which finds its greatest accomplishments to-date here in cuts like “Above 179,” “Loose,” “The Son,” “A.W.,” “Groundhog Day” and “Into the Spell.”

A returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Dani G., guitarists Giannis S. and George T., and drummer Labros G. set the tone with the aforementioned opener “Above 179,” which declares its fuzzy roll outright and meets it head on with a galloping chug and the first of many resounding hooks. The tones are full, the drums sharp, the vocals cut through perfectly — it’s clear right from the start that it was a production with effort behind it; more an attempt to make an album with its own energy than represent a live show in raw form, and that works for the material as “Above 179” slows down and crashes into the riff that launches the subsequent “Loose.”

Tied with “The Son” as the longest tracks on Repeated Exposure To… at 8:41, “Loose” finds tension in the drums and builds toward its verse over the course of its first minute, a swing taking hold that finds interplay opening to its chorus, memorable almost immediately upon entering the ears. It’s only part of the impression “Loose” makes, however, as a thicker push kicks in to back a bridge and they move into a solo section at the halfway point that leads to a quiet section as part of a plotted instrumental jam that moves through the remainder of the track. Even as tight as they’ve shown themselves to be just a couple songs in, 1000mods let “Loose” live up to its name.

1000mods-photo-by-anastacia-papadaki

Its somewhat more hypnotic and long-faded finish is a smooth setup for the boot-to-the-ass that is “Electric Carve,” a 3:37 rush topped by more aggressive vocals in its chorus that’s the shortest inclusion at 3:37 and arguably the most intense — a barnburner, though one not quite willing to let go of the overarching groove 1000mods have built over the album’s early going. That turn of approach is all the more noteworthy as “Electric Carve” splits the difference between “Loose” and “The Son,” which holds to its swinging progression more than “Loose” but also has plenty of room for another extended instrumental section in its second half, changing the context in which it and both the tracks around it arrive. Again, 1000mods benefit from experience, from professionalism, and Repeated Exposure To… is a stronger record for it.

The play back and forth in thrust continues with the faster “A.W.,” though in this instance it’s the guitar doing the screaming following a quick intro line that seems to play directly off Monster Magnet‘s “Powertrip” prior to a chorus of “I know I’m living in a bottle,” that proves no less infectious. A slowdown at the halfway mark builds back up to full-throttle push and where both “Loose” and “The Son” left their hooks behind to go exploring, “A.W.” cuts the runtime by about 50 percent and reinforces the underlying notion of songcraft that’s been there all along by returning to what becomes its signature line near the finish.

Though it gets somewhat swallowed up by the closing duo that follows in “Groundhog Day” and “Into the Spell,” the subsequent “On a Stone” rolls out yet another showcase chorus and plays successfully off a mid-paced vibe that serves as a fluid transition into the ending section while satisfying in its structure and the ground it finds between the drive of cuts like “Electric Carve” and the more spacious material elsewhere on Repeated Exposure To… — a category in which it seems fair to include “Groundhog Day,” if only for the largesse of its central groove.

Both the penultimate track and the closer top seven minutes, and comprise between them an immersive finale for 1000mods, “Groundhog Day”‘s roll a standout moment for the album as a whole and put to effective use as a kind of instrumental chorus in the first half of the song until about three and a half minutes in when the drums signal a shift into the righteously half-timed solo section that will cap the remainder, a lone guitar line leading into “Into the Spell,” which announces itself with echoing guitar backed by bass and an emergent drum line over the course of its first minute-plus before the main riff makes its presence felt. If there’s anywhere on Repeated Exposure To… that 1000mods show their roots, it’s in “Into the Spell,” with a line drawn directly to Kyuss that still shifts back and forth into the more individualized jam while also keeping a forward motion overall.

Like the album overall, it’s not a minor accomplishment, and as they move from raucous, good-times heavy into the long fade that ends side B, it becomes increasingly clear what a special moment for the band Repeated Exposure To… has managed to capture. Like Dozer was once able to do in successfully transcending their early influences to create something individual from them, so too have 1000mods produced a work of such quality built from the strong foundation of their two prior full-lengths. I won’t attempt to conjecture as to future impact they or the band might have, but these songs hit with an effect that feels geared toward longer-term appreciation, and the immediate sense is that Repeated Exposure To… might just get even richer with time and, suitably enough, multiple return visits.

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1000mods Say Goodbye to Vultures with “Claws” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

1000mods (photo by Evan Maragkoudakis)

Greek heavy rockers 1000mods have a new video for the track “Claws.” Or, at least for about half of the track. The song comes from their sophomore full-length, Vultures (review here), and the clip is less of a traditional music video than it is a kind of montage of the Chiliomodi outfit’s good times in supporting it. They toured heavily for the album within Greece and across Europe, and footage from the 18 months since Vultures‘ release is compiled together here as the band prepares to say goodbye to the record and, presumably, move forward with whatever they’ll do next.

I don’t know whether that’s a new full-length in the works, an EP, or something else, but either way, a year and a half is certainly a respectable album cycle, so you can’t say they didn’t give Vultures its due. They have three shows this month in Greece to round out 2015, and they’ve teased some news about a “special release,” which could be anything from a new single to an album already in the can, but concrete word of what’s next is still forthcoming. Still, for all of the two minutes it takes to look back on what the last 18 months has brought for the band — fest appearances, tours with The Atomic Bitchwax among others, the album’s release and subsequent acclaim — it’s easily worth the time.

Video is by G.N.P. Productions, and you’ll find it below. Enjoy:

1000mods, “Claws” official video

“Vultures” was released on May 30, 2014. Since then we have played 92 gigs, drove more than 50.000 kms through 22 different countries, met old friends and made a lot of new. We shared the stage with amazing bands and cooperated with some really cool people.

This video contains some of the best moment we had the last two years.

Track: Claws

Directed, filmed and edited by G.N.P. Productions
Additional footage by Greg Chour

Now it ‘s time for the “Vultures’ Flight” (!) to end with three gigs in Greek soil.

1000mods || Beggars || Naxatras at Principal Thessaloniki, 04.12.2015
1000mods || Sadhus || Lizardia at Stage Larissa, 05.12.2015
1000mods || Godsleep at Pireaus 117 Academy Athens, 19.12.2015

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1000mods, Vultures: To the Heart of the Matter

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Among desert rock “outsiders” — that is, those not actually living in the Californian desert from which the genre takes its name — Greek four-piece 1000mods have to be somewhere near the top in terms of accurately conveying the swing, the tonal weight and the focus on vibe that typify the style. Their 2011 full-length debut, Super Van Vacation (review here), announced their arrival as professionals in terms of their grip on the aesthetic, having refined the approach to that point over two EPs — 2006’s Blank Reality and 2009’s Liquid Sleep (review here) — as well as a 2010 split tape with similarly-intentioned German outfit Wight, and the follow-up long-player, Vultures, which also comes after late 2012’s Valley of Sand EP (discussed here), they continue to proffer classic stoner rock riffing. You could take the eight-track/39-minute The Lab Records outing as further evidence that fuzz knows no geographic boundaries, or you can simply approach Vultures as a killer heavy rock record. The latter makes for a more satisfying listening experience, I’ll admit, and for those who approach songs like “She” and “Horses’ Green” with the expectation of their traditionalist spirit, 1000mods will answer back with high-grade rolling grooves that cut to the same root influences Lowrider once embroiled themselves in to craft Ode to Io. One hears more than a little Kyuss throughout, but 1000mods make the sound their own both through the energetic charge of their swing and the memorable hooks around which their songs are based, pieces like “Big Beautiful” and “Modesty” running at full-speed while “Low” and the closing “Reverb of the New World” have a more spacious take.

They skirt the line here and there, particularly on the finale, the title of which derives from a Carl Sagan sample that also appears in the song, but 1000mods never quite tip over into heavy psychedelic jamming, holding instead to the structures around which their songs are based and keeping a sense of movement even in their most languid stretches. If they’re exploring, they’re exploring the impact of the riffs, rather than the riffs themselves. That’s not to say they never have an open feel — even before “Low” starts its laid back push, “She” caps off with an instrumental build that’s as wide a berth as anyone could ask — but there’s always a conscious purpose at work, and as the vibe is so loose of the album overall, it’s doubly impressive, the four-piece of guitarists Gianni and George, bassist/vocalist Dani and drummer Labros never lacking for direction even when they want to and succeed in sounding lost. Opener “Claws” probably could’ve closed Vultures just as easily as it leads off, but the in medias res feel of the guitar line that starts it makes the momentum all the more immediate, and with the speedier boogie of “Big Beautiful” — a lyrical reference to Queen‘s “Fat Bottomed Girls” in the line, “Big bottom woman, you can make a big boy out of me,” is a nice touch — following, 1000mods are almost into the thick of Vultures before the listener knows it, the Sky Valley-style opening of “She” giving way to one of the album’s biggest riffs, Dani‘s voice echoing and gruff over top. Groove is paramount on “She” as throughout, but the riffs, the crash, the groove all comes in service to the song, and even as “She” enters its reaches in guitar solo tradeoffs to make for as big a finish as possible — the ending of “Claws” seemed to come in movements, “She” is more linear — 1000mods waste nothing in conveying the intended atmosphere.

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