Ancient VVisdom Sign to Argonauta; 33 out Oct. 13; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Just days after the announcement that frontman Nathan Opposition‘s new project, Vessel of Light, would make their debut this Fall on Argonauta Records comes word that Opposition‘s main outfit, the darkly, doomly and folkish Ancient VVisdom, have also aligned to the same imprint for the release of their impending fourth album, 33. The follow-up to 2014’s Sacrificial will also be out digitally through Magic Bullet Records and on vinyl through DHU Records, and there’s a quick glimpse of the band’s moody approach to be sampled as of today in the new track “Light of Lucifer,” which you can hear at the bottom of this post.

Opposition offers comment on the signing and the upcoming record below, via the PR wire. Dig it:

ancient vvisdom

US Occult Rockers ANCIENT VVISDOM inked a deal with ARGONAUTA Records to release their highly anticipated new album “33”, following their previous paths “A Godlike Inferno” (2011), “Deathlike” (2013) and “Sacrificial” (2014).

From the band, Nathan Opposition says: “Forging ahead, I have kept the all seeing eye on the fallen angel to keep my faith in his works. This album is a work made of worship songs to our Lord and Master Satan. The collective efforts of our unholy Trinity Lucifer, Satan and The Devil. In light of darker times, I find it necessary to express myself in a way that teaches on a higher level.”

On the record deal: “I’m very excited to release Ancient VVisdom’s 4th album “33” with 3 different amazing record labels! Argonauta Records in Italy for CD version, Magic Bullet Records out of Oceanside California doing our digital release, and DHU Records from the Netherlands is going to be doing some sick vinyl colors. It’s a collective. All excellent people, working hard to release underground and independent music. I’m a fan of many different artists and musicians, it’s quite rewarding to see everyone in an underground culture take the initiative and make things fucking happen for all of us, as fans of music and for the ones making music as well.

About the new album: “33 is a master number. It is also the age Christ was crucified. 33 is the age of the peak of existence. It is the age I am. 33 is the answer. I’ve been fortunate enough to do the devils work and continue to spread the message to the masses. This album is very important to us. It has symbolic meaning and melody that serves the words purposefully. My brother Michael and I are grateful and are pleased to give you “33”. This is our favorite offering to date and we hope you all enjoy it.”

The first single “Light of Lucifer” is out today and available here.

ANCIENT VVISDOM “33” will be released worldwide on CD edition by ARGONAUTA Records and available from October 13th, 2017. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2wPAOUV

TRACK-LIST:
1. Ascending eternally
2. Light of Lucifer
3. In The Name Of Satan
4. True Will
5. The Infernal One
6. Summoning Eternal Light
7. Rise Fallen Angel
8. 33
9. The Great Beast
10. Lux
11. Dispelling Darkness

https://www.facebook.com/AVVFB/
https://twitter.com/ancientvvisdom
https://www.instagram.com/officialancientvvisdom/
https://ancient-vvisdom.bandcamp.com/
http://bit.ly/2wPAOUV
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
argonautarecords.com

Ancient VVisdom, “Light of Lucifer”

Ancient VVisdom, Sacrificial (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Red Giant, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Red Giant, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound (1998)

Next year will make it a full 20 since the release of Cleveland heavy rockers Red Giant‘s blazing second album, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound. If you were a denizen of the Emissions from the Monolith Festival, held in Youngstown, OH, between 2000 and 2004, you’re probably already familiar with the record and its Derek Hess classic-pulp-sci-fi cover art, but otherwise you might be forgiven. Issued by Tee Pee Records in 1998, it’s a strikingly effective blend of post-Fu Manchu heavy groove with elements of punk, unmitigated stoner rock riffing and space-bound psychedelia brought to bear over the course of a 66-minute runtime that now seems unmanageable but was indicative of the (about to be waning) CD era in which it was released. The band, led by guitarist/vocalists Alex Perekrest and Damien Perry — the former lead vocals and the latter lead guitar — trace their roots back to 1990 and self-released their debut full-length, Psychoblaster and the Misuse of Power, in 1995, and while I admit it’s been a while since I last heard that one, the second record is where it’s at.

Marked out by the guitar interplay between Perry and Perekrest — whose shared taste in hairstyling always made them look like brothers on stage, as I recall — and the fluid drum work of Chris Gorman, the 12-track Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound showed no hesitation in its approach, whether it was in taking on the cosmic-grunge riffery of “Saturn Missile Battery” or getting positively cacophonous in “Pervert” ahead of the fuzzy deep-dives that followed in “.865 (The Battle for Longitude),” the nine-minute “Ring of the Acid Pope” and the seven-minute roller “Devils of the Fall,” which hit in immersive succession and built on the molten impression of opener “1960 Starchief,” drawing on influence from classic heavy rock as much as its of-the-day practitioners on the West Coast like Nebula and the aforementioned Fu Manchu, but adding a decidedly Midwestern crunch beneath that keeps its feet on the ground even as songs like “Blue-White Supergiant” and “When Sirius Rises” seem to issue a call well outside the stratosphere. Raw in its production in a way that would probably be lush if it was recorded today, Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound is in part an artifact of its era, but stands out all the more for that since aside from the likes of the sludgier Rebreather and arguably the more post-hardcore Disengage, there were very few acts in Ohio at the time playing heavy rock at all in the fashion that Red Giant were.

That’s evident in the drifting “Floor Girl” as much as the sample-topped winding peak of “Ring of the Acid Pope,” as Red Giant‘s scope expanded despite a feeling of impatience in their execution that worked to unite the material. Compared to the scorching solos of “Saturn Missile Battery” earlier, “When Sirius Rises” turned out to be a relatively straightforward affair, but as Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound pushed onward through the far-ranging “Thread” and the Zeppelin-styled, acoustic-inclusive “Kill for Condors” toward its finish with the righteously stomping “Another Dying Admiral” (plus a hidden track), their breadth steadily kept growing, such that what began an hour earlier showing itself as a multifaceted, hook-laden but immersive heavy rocker lived up to that promise and then some, rewarding those whose attention span, whether through natural inclination or chemical assistance of one sort or another, allowed for Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound‘s complete unfolding front-to-back. Not a minor undertaking, but not without justification for its stretch either.

If it was being made today, again, it would likely be a much different record. That’s part of the appeal though, and I note how long Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound is in relation to modern, made-for-vinyl 38-minute full-lengths and keep in mind that Red Giant‘s last album, 2010’s Dysfunctional Majesty (review here) — you’ll see it’s the same character on the cover art, though the later LP’s execution is tackier, much as I love Alex von Wieding — was also 67 minutes. Part of that might have been the fact that it had been six years since Red Giant had released their third offering, Devil Child Blues, as their debut on Small Stone, though that album was only 49 minutes and it had been more than half a decade since Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound as well. Maybe some bands just want to make 2LPs. Fine. At this point, seven years after Dysfunctional Majesty, I wouldn’t argue with another hour-plus from these cats.

To that point, there’s been no indication of a fifth album from Red Giant one way or another, but they have continued to play shows over the last several years, working as the four-piece of PerekrestPerryGorman (who was out of the band for a while, then back) and bassist Brian Skinner, and they have one booked for the Agora in Cleveland on Oct. 14 with The Great Iron Snake with an event page on Thee Facebooks here for anyone who might be able to make it. So while they’re still active, I guess one never knows until one shows up to the gig whether or not they might have something brewing.

Either way, I hope you enjoy Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound, and thank you as always for reading.

It’s coming up on six in the morning as I write this and prepare to wrap up the week. I’ve got the back door of my kitchen open to outside, where it’s not yet reached the 150 degrees kelvin it’s supposed to be this afternoon, and the birds are chirping as the sun is up. I missed most of the sunrise, but that’s cool. It happens on the other side of the house. If I was in Connecticut and not Massachusetts this weekend, I might be bummed about not having caught it.

I’m not in Connecticut this weekend though. The choice basically became whether to spend the money on gas to get there or groceries for the next week, so yeah, we’re home this weekend. The good news is I got approved to take photos on Sunday at Clutch and Primus in Boston. It’ll be the first non-fest show I’ve been to in I don’t even know how long, and to say I’m very much looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ve been very, very anxious about going out to gigs basically since my ankle was screwed up and I’ve fallen out of the habit. The drives seem longer — the drive into Boston being particularly miserable and taking upwards of 90 minutes at any hour doesn’t help — and between knowing fewer people here, worrying about being early enough to get up front and take pictures, shitty lighting at just about every Boston venue except Royale (which should have a photo pit and doesn’t), being sober, and the massive effort and little reward of putting together live reviews afterward, I’ve chickened out of more shows than I can count. I missed The Atomic Bitchwax and Mirror Queen last week. I’ve missed The Obsessed a couple times. Lo-Pan. The list goes on. I get bummed out about it, but the truth is I miss New York.

Still, I’d like to get a couple shows in before The Pecan arrives in October — you should see The Patient Mrs.’ bump; I’ve yet to say so out loud, but I’ve taken to calling it Sleep’s Holy Mountain because she’s also tired all the time — and Clutch and Primus is a cool way to come out of hibernation. I bought the last Primus album, Green Naugahyde, shortly after it came out in 2011, because I’ve been a fan since I was like 10 years old, but never really dug into it. Will give an extra listen before Sunday, and there are some new Clutch songs floating around on the YouTubes as well that I’ve been digging on. I’m excited to see the gig. It’s been a while since I felt that way. I’ll probably get there and have no credentials at the box office. Ha.

The Patient Mrs. is coming with me too for that. I’m counting it as The Pecan’s first show. Extra stoked on that level. Hopefully the classy bass licks of Dan Maines and the funky punch of Les Claypool reverberate in his still-forming brain and lead to a lifetime of appreciating how utterly essential quality low end is to rock and roll. That would be nice.

But that’s Sunday. In a little while, The Patient Mrs. will get up and we’ll head to the grocery store and start the day for some early productivity. Not much on tap in terms of big plans for the day; she’s out later for a thing, so I’ll watch PBS NewsHour and Mystery Science Theater 3000 this evening to pass time, maybe put together a podcast this afternoon while checking out last night’s Yankees game, if only because they won and it was on too late to see live. We’ll see.

It’s a full week next week though already. Here’s what’s in the notes, subject to change as usual:

Mon.: Clutch & Primus live review; Snail video from The Obelisk All-Dayer.
Tue.: The Judge review/track premiere; maybe podcast.
Wed.: Radio Adds; Marius Tilly video premiere.
Thu.: Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree review; Six Dumb Questions w/ Tim Granda about Planet of Doom; ZOM announcement.
Fri.: Youngblood Supercult review.

Like I said, pretty jammed. Monday and Tuesday are also just about full for news as well, so yeah. Space and time are at a premium these days, and each week seems to bring more six-post mornings and afternoons. Not gonna complain about it. I’m going to do as much as I can, when I can. Same as always.

I’ve gotten some right-on records to review in the last couple weeks of things that are coming out this Fall. Paradise Lost, Monolord, that Slomatics live album, Argus, Pagan Altar, The Quill, another one from an East Coast band that I can’t really name yet, plus Blues Funeral, Ruby the Hatchet, and so on. Really killer stuff. The next few months are going to be fun as I rifle through all of it for coverage. I look forward to it and hope you do too.

And of course I hope you have a great and safe weekend as well. Rock and roll, have an awesome time whatever you’re up to, and we’ll see you back here Monday for more shenanigans. Please check out the forum and radio stream, and thanks as always for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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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

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

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

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

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

iah iah

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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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Swallow the Sun, Beesus, Giöbia, Decasia, Sonic Mass, Wolvserpent, Delouners, Dead East Garden, Pearl Handled Revolver

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

The Wednesday of a Quarterly Review is always special to me. In the six, maybe seven, times I’ve done this now, Wednesday has always been the marker of turning to the second half of the week. Hump Day in a bizarre context. That said, I feel good about how it’s gone so far and I feel very good about the stuff that’s being written about in more than just that getting-it-out-of-the-way spirit. Still, we start today with something that should’ve been reviewed months ago, and I’ll admit to being glad to have such a formidable weight off my chest.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sunn O))), Kannon

sunn kannon

Sunn O))) are without question among the most integral bands of their generation. I don’t feel like it’s going even remotely out on a limb to say that. With the three-song full-length, Kannon (on Southern Lord), they go back to exploring the waveforms and ritualistic atmospheres that helped their influence spread in the first place, after several years of collaborating with others like Scott Walker and Ulver. Kannon is the first Sunn O)))-proper LP since 2009’s orchestral Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), and while I understand any and everything I might have to say about it is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the from-all-sides laudits founding guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have received, its three parts nonetheless demonstrate the fact that with Sunn O))), there is never any backward looking, and that even as they strip away elements that made Monoliths and Dimensions as expansive as it was in favor of the claustrophobic rumble and chants of “Kannon 3,” they move relentlessly forward. They remain necessary.

Sunn O))) on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings

 

Swallow the Sun, Songs from the North I, II & III

swallow the sun songs from the north i ii iii

Hey, I like Swallow the Sun. I’ve dug the Finnish outfit since their debut, The Morning Never Came, but I gotta say, maybe a triple album, which Songs from the North I, II and III is, is a bit much? The concept is awesome – one record of light/dark, one record of light, one record of dark – but in practice it’s about a 160 minutes long and a considerable investment to ask of their audience. When it comes to repeat listens, I can’t help but continually go to Songs from the North III, the most extreme installment, which still has plenty of spacious guitar melodies to go with its death-doom emotional and tonal crush, and while I’m not sure that Swallow the Sun would’ve been doing themselves any favors if they spaced out three separate releases rather than bundling them together as they have, it’ll be years before a release of this scope can be properly digested, if it can at all, and for a band whose work is as complex and often lush as Swallow the Sun’s, one wants to absorb it in a way that such a massive offering doesn’t allow.

Swallow the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Century Media

 

Beesus, The Rise of Beesus

beesus the rise of beesus

Italy’s heavy rock boom continues with the debut album from Roman riffers Beesus. The four-piece nod at desert grunge with “6 Ft. Under Box” and roll out thick, loosely-psychedelic vibes on the opening title-track, but The Rise of Beesus primarily tells its story in its plays of density and spaciousness – see “Waltzer” and the later “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth” – and one is reminded a bit of Snail circa Blood in that, but a sense of variety brings moments like the quiet opening stretch of “Kusa” and the bass-led thrust of “Mata la Verguenza,” making The Rise of Beesus not as easy to predict as it might first appear. When it does indulge its heft, as on “Beesus in Dope,” it satisfies, but while consistent, it is by no means unipolar. It seems to set Beesus up for future expansion on any number of lines, but as their first outing, it also has a noteworthy sense of itself, carving out an identity from diversity of songcraft and an abidingly chaotic vibe.

Beesus on Thee Facebooks

Beesus on Bandcamp

 

Giöbia, Magnifier

giobia magnifier

Fall 2015’s Magnifier (on Sulatron Records) is the fourth LP from Italian psych/space rockers Giöbia, who launch with the ominous cosmic thrust of “This World was Being Watched Closely” and make their grandest statement on side B with the 15-minute lysergic noise excursion of “Sun Spectre.” There and elsewhere in “The Pond,” “The Stain” and the closing “The Magnifier,” Giöbia pursue shroomy sonic enlightenment through soaking reverb and wah, Moog, synth, bouzouki and so on – a somewhat kitchen sink approach resulting in a joyous front-to-back wash of spirited energy and engaging depth. The follow-up to 2013’s Introducing Night Sound (review here), Magnifier finds synth-laden prog swing in “Lentamenta la Luce Svanirà” and pushes air with the low end of its finale title-cut, a right-on dripper that’s round enough to make the world seem square by comparison. The place Giöbia inhabit between psychedelia and space rock is fast becoming a planet all their own, and for ambassadorship of their sound, Magnifier thrills.

Giöbia on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

 

Decasia, Decasia

decasia decasia title=

Recorded by the band in 2014 and issued in 2015 as their debut EP, Decasia’s Decasia flows more like a long-player, with five cuts that unfold from the tanpura and didgeridoo immersion of opener “Halo,” but I won’t argue. While rawer than what one might commonly expect out of European heavy psychedelia, the French trio nonetheless cull aspects of that sound into their own, so that centerpiece “Blue Love” is right at home with its Hendrixian guitar swing, and closer “Dive” feels within rights to demonstrate a touch of Colour Haze in its initial rhythm, though on the whole Decasia are less laid back and more grunge-informed, resulting in an intriguing blend that, from the burst at the open of “Sherpa” through the crashing finish of “Dive,” shows them as a group able to play to either side at will. They’ve already followed up with the jam “Moodoo Majja,” but I wouldn’t speculate which side will win out as they continue to develop, if indeed any single one does.

Decasia on Thee Facebooks

Decasia on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn

sonic mass you people never learn

The second long-player from London sludgers Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn… would seem immediately to be positioning itself as punishment. Fair enough – there’s certainly some abrasive aspect to its overriding rawness and liberal feedback – but the huge groove that pays off the build in the second half of “Butcher of Brogdael” is more righteous inclusion than it is masochistic, and even faster, shorter cuts like the blown-out punk of “Biker Satania” or “Toga”’s unhinged dual-guitar thrust feels more about a raucous vibe than putting someone off. In the title-track, they move from a wash of distortion into some caustic feedback by the end, but by then the context of You People Never Learn… is such that the nodding push of eight-minute closer “Quadranoid” is more a celebration than a beating, even if it does round out with two minutes of amp crackle, effects and feedback. If it was coming from a stage, you’d raise a pint to it.

Sonic Mass on Thee Facebooks

Sonic Mass on Bandcamp

 

Wolvserpent, Aporia:Kala:Ananta

wolvserpent aporia kala ananta

Longform material is nothing new for Boise, Idaho-based duo Wolvserpent. Both of their two full-lengths to-date, 2010’s Blood Seed and 2013’s Perigaea Antahkarana, have found the ritual drone-doomers working in extended contexts. However, the newly-issued Aporia:Kala:Ananta EP (on Relapse) pushes that line even further. It is a single-song work running 40 minutes of spacious, sometimes grueling, thrillingly challenging heft, marked by a cinematic sense of drama in its use of violin, blackened extremity and striking depth. Drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green aren’t so much taking any huge stylistic leaps from what they’ve done before, but the scope of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” as well as the overarching flow of the piece, its patient execution, and the masterful hand with which they guide it, cannot be called anything but progression. The only question I have is why they’re not calling it an album. Considering both its runtime and its breadth, to consider it anything less feels like selling it short.

Wolvserpent on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

 

Delouners, Family

delouners family

Swapping back and forth between Spanish and English lyrics adds variety to Family, the 13-song/45-minute debut long-player from Uruguayan foursome Delouners, but they weren’t short on it anyway. Spacious, echoing guitars and a languid psychedelia-gone-heavy-blues carry across laid back blowout rolls like “Low” and the more uptempo “Secreto,” and all the more in the side A-ending “Mistery Caravan,” the lazy, hazy, take-it-way-down groove feels derived from an All Them Witches influence. There are more garage rock moments, as on the title-track, the earlier “Los Dormidos,” “Alain Delon” and closer “Mirtha Legrand,” and the shoegazing tropicality of “Sea/Side” furthers an individualized sensibility overall, but that naturalist spirit never departs completely. So be it. Delouners drench this central inspiration in their own sonic persona, and so come off influenced rather than derivative, setting themselves up to branch out their progression as they see fit on whatever they might do next.

Delouners on Thee Facebooks

Delouners on Bandcamp

 

Dead East Garden, Dead East Garden

dead east garden dead east garden

There are five songs on the self-titled debut EP from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dead East Garden and three of them could be said to have something to do with cars – “Starting Line,” “El Camino Rock” and “Straight Burning Road.” That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact. From the post-Pepper Keenan chug of opener “The Lurker,” one kind of knows what’s coming from the workingman’s heavy rockers, but “Mother’s Disease” fleshes out a less dudely aggro spirit with a more patient initial roll and satisfying lead work from guitarist Ryan Scheel. The beer-soaked vibes resume as “Straight Burning Road” comes on to close, vocalist Pat Homolish layering spoken and belted-out hooks as bassist John Roach (since out of the band) and drummer R.J. Drenski hold down one more straightforward groove, and Dead East Garden reinforce the plainspoken intent on display across the short release, as light on pretense as it is heavy on testosterone.

Dead East Garden on Thee Facebooks

Dead East Garden website

 

Pearl Handled Revolver, If the Devil Cast His Net

pearl handled revolver if the devil cast his net

As with their 2013 sophomore outing, This Mountain Waits (review here), the third album from UK heavy blues/classic rockers Pearl Handled Revolver, titled If the Devil Cast His Net, uses synth, Mellotron, electric piano and organ to explore a wide variety of moods, from the soft-guitar blues of “Someone Like You” to the rambling “Absinthe in Adelaide.” All throughout, the band reaffirm their mastery of these styles as they go, be it the boogie shuffle of “Loverman” or the side A closing title-track, which sets forth one of the record’s most engaging bass grooves under gravelly verse before moving into an extended instrumental jam, no less poised than anything preceding or following. That plotted feel is at the core of Pearl Handled Revolver’s approach – nothing is here by accident – and it makes their songcraft all the more inarguable, taking in a post-The Doors bounce on closer “Into the Blue” as they mirror the end of the album’s first half for another striking finish.

Pearl Handled Revolver on Thee Facebooks

Pearl Handled Revolver website

 

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Cultist Release Debut EP Three Candles

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Without departing its central aesthetic foundation, Cultist‘s debut EP goes from its shortest song to its longest, gradually drawing the listener further into its engrossing fuzz and classically minded swing. The five-track offering is the first from the Cleveland, Ohio-based outfit, which boasts members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl in its lineup, and the immediate touchstone sound-wise is Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, whose tonality and still-accessible rhythmic lurch makes its way into songs like “Path of the Old One” and “Consuming Damnation.”

The latter is the centerpiece of the initial short offering, which starts off on a roll with its title-track and carries momentum through the chugging “Follow Me” and the slower, VHS-grain dirge “Eternal Dark” on a thick bed of guitar and bass pushed along at nod-ready pace. Vocals are a distinguishing feature for the force of their delivery and the blown-out means in which they arrive, and particularly “Eternal Dark” seems ready to break out in pursuit of something individual by the time the solo comes around in the second half — backed by a particularly satisfying bassline — so there’s more happening across the EP than simply re-purposing the riff to “I’ll Cut You Down” and writing a couple tracks around it, which is a better start than some acts seem to get these days.

True to form, social media presence is minimal outside of a no-pictures-of-faces Instagram account and a Bandcamp, where Three Candles can be streamed and downloaded. However, what info there is follows here, as seen on the late-night PR wire:

cultist three candles ep

Skeletonwitch bass player and Howl guitarist unveil heavy psych-rock project dubbed Cultist. The group has released a 5 song EP titled “Three Candles” filled with eerie, psychedelic lo-fi rock n’ roll drenched in fuzz. Available now for streaming and download here cultistworship.bandcamp.com

Three Candles EP recorded/engineered/mastered by Ben Vehorn at Tangerine Sound Studios.

Artwork by Justin Bean. Layout by J. Brett Prince. Additional artwork by Nate Kemr.

cultistworship.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/cultist_worship/

Cultist, Three Candles EP (2016)

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Shadow Kingdom Records Announces Lineup for ‘Shadow Kingdom Riot’ Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

shadow kingdom records logo

In conjunction with Hells Headbangers and its Hells HeadbashShadow Kingdom Records has announced the inaugural Shadow Kingdom Riot for Sept. 3 at the Agora in Cleveland. Night Magic, which is an extension of defunct doomers Hour of 13, will play, as well as TombstalkerCovenIron ManVenomous Maximus and Temple of Void on a bill thoroughly doomed and fitting the label’s passion for underground heavy and classic metal. They’re saying it’ll be an annual thing, and if that turns out to be the case, Shadow Kingdom are already giving themselves something tough to outdo for a one-night lineup.

The PR wire has knowledge it wants to share:

shadow kingdom riot

Shadow Kingdom Records Announces First Annual ‘Shadow Kingdom Riot’ Showcase

Venomous Maximus to Headline Raucous Lineup of Diverse Underground Metal September 3 in Cleveland

Acclaimed, independent underground heavy metal label SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to announce its first label showcase, set to take place September 3, 2015 at Cleveland, Ohio’s Agora Ballroom. Dubbed the Shadow Kingdom Riot, the special event will spotlight the label’s eclectic roster of true heavy metal acts, from new signings — such as VENOMOUS MAXIMUS and TOMBSTALKER — to bands that date back to the label’s launch in 2007, like Maryland’s heralded IRON MAN.

Tickets for the Shadow Kingdom Riot are $15 and are on sale now at this location. The showcase is presented in part with Shadow Kingdom’s sister label, Hells Headbangers and that label’s second 3-day annual anniversary fest, Hells Headbash (see details here), slated for September 4-6, also at the Agora Ballroom. Metal fans who purchase a 3 day pass to the Hell’s Headbash event will receive FREE admission to the Shadow Kingdom Riot show on September 3, as part of the package.

The Shadow Kingdom Riot lineup and schedule will feature the following Shadow Kingdom Records artists, performing as follows:

6 PM: TOMBSTALKER (Black/Death Metal)
7 PM: TEMPLE OF VOID (Doom / Death Metal)
8 PM: COVEN (Classic Heavy / Doom Metal)
9 PM: NIGHT MAGIC (aka HOUR OF 13 / Doom Metal)
10 PM: IRON MAN (Doom Metal)
11 PM: VENOMOUS MAXIMUS (Dark Heavy Metal)

For breaking news and updates on the Shadow Kingdom Riot, visit the show’s Facebook event page HERE: https://www.facebook.com/events/822052027886344/

https://www.facebook.com/ShadowKingdomRecords
http://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Black Mare & Lycia, Bell Witch, Lasers from Atlantis and Contra

Posted in Radio on May 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

I didn’t want to look, but in the end curiosity won out. April 17 was the date of the last batch of radio adds, so yes, it’s been more than a month. Not for lack of stuff coming either, just the want of time. As such, and not knowing when I might get the opportunity to do something like this again, I’ve got 31 records added to the playlist this afternoon — you can see them all at the Playlist and Updates Page — and as you can tell both by the below and by that list, it’s a mix of bigger and up and coming names, a couple older records, and a few singles and other things maybe not as widely available. If you find something you dig, then killer. If not, there’s always next month. Ha.

The Obelisk Radio adds for May 29, 2015:

All Them Witches, A Sweet Release

all them witches a sweet release

It is getting increasingly difficult to chart the discography of Nashville’s All Them Witches, between self-released live outings, hosted bootlegs, represses, physical vs. digital releases and one-offs like A Sweet Release or their last EP, 2014’s Effervescent (review here), but something tells me they like it that way. A Sweet Release was issued as something of a surprise on April 20, and collects mostly live jams that, though they listed it as an EP, actually runs longer than either of their two full-lengths, Lightning at the Door (review here) or their debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here). At 58 minutes, the five-track outing mostly invites the listener to get immersed. That is, it’s less about songs and more about jams, and that’s true from the two-movement-split-by-manipulated-stage-banter exploration of “It Moved We Moved/Almost There/A Spider’s Gift,” the opener and longest cut included at 24 minutes (immediate points), to the quiet guitar noodling of two-minute closer “Sweet Bear.” In between, extended pieces like “Howdy Hoodee Slank” and “Interstate Bleach Party” (both over 11 minutes) find the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes-ist Allan van Cleave and drummer Rob Staebler comfortable and well in their element, their onstage chemistry having developed them into one of the most promising acts in American heavy rock — yes, I mean that — while “El Paso Sleep on It” proves a singular highlight with its laid back unfolding, the interplay of guitar and bass begging further development into what might on a regular release be called a song. A holdover to their third full-length? Maybe, but that doesn’t stop A Sweet Release from living up to its name, and for the already converted, new All Them Witches of any sort is unlikely to rouse complaint, the band having established in their early going that anything can and might happen both in terms of what they put out and what sonics they set in motion on their releases. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Black Mare & Lycia, Low Crimes/Silver Leaf Split

black mare lycia split

L.A.-based vocalist Sera Timms, known for her work in Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini and who also has a full-length due this year for the Gary Arce collaboration Zun, is the sole driving force behind Black Mare, and the otherworldly transit of “Low Crimes” makes a worthy answer to her 2013 full-length under the moniker, Field of the Host (review here), even if it is just one song. For this new Magic Bullet Records split, she works with bandmates from Ides of Gemini and MGR and partners with Lycia on the B-side, long-running Arizona outfit Lycia offer a sampling of their darkened atmospherics on “Silver Leaf,” holding to an edge of gothic drama in their spoken word vocals but setting it to a straightforward, near-minimal rhythm for a feel distinctly American. By its very nature, it’s a quick release, over in about 11 minutes, but both acts offer ethereal moodiness that seems to effect the listener even after play as ceased, the waves of electric guitar and tom rolls in “Low Crimes,” not to mention Timms‘ own far-back vocals, and the interplay of voices and subtle backing chimes and other elements of “Silver Leaf” complementing each other in a way that seems to enhance the enjoyment of both. Black Mare on Thee Facebooks, Lycia on Thee Facebooks, Magic Bullet Records on Bandcamp.

Bell Witch, Four Phantoms

bell witch four phantoms

For a release as outwardly heavy as Bell Witch‘s Four Phantoms (on Profound Lore) is, the follow-up to 2012’s Longing (review here) has surprised all the more because its primary impression isn’t of aural, but of emotional weight. The four-track, 66-minute offering plays two 22-minute cuts off two 10-minute cuts, and there are themes running between them alternating between “Suffocation” and “Judgement,” but for all the harsh death-doom crawl that a song like opener “Suffocation, a Burial: I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” has, and for all its growling lurch, the woeful riffing and mourning leads from bassist Dylan Desmond (also Samothrace) set a resonant, melancholic course that the album continues to develop throughout, hitting a particularly striking moment when it brings in Erik Moggridge (also known as Aerial Ruin) with Desmond and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra (Sod Hauler) for a guest vocal spot on third track “Suffocation, a Drowning: II – Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever)” that’s as gorgeous as its chanting is dark. Minimalist stretches in “Judgement, in Fire: I – Garden (Of Blooming Ash)” only add to the spaciousness of Four Phantoms‘ overall feel, and closer “Judgement, in Air: II – Felled (In Howling Wind)” seems not to deconstruct so much as to will itself into an oblivion of a plod, bass aping a guitar lead over wide-gap crashes in true dirge fashion. It’s a no-doubter to feature on many year-end lists, but however loud the hype gets, the genuine expressiveness Bell Witch bring to a sound usually thought of either as cold or overly theatrical puts them in a class of modern doom alongside their labelmates in Pallbearer and LossBell Witch on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore on Bandcamp.

Lasers from Atlantis, Lasers from Atlantis

lasers from atlantis lasers from atlantis

Running a line somewhere between extendo-heavy-psych jamming and more concrete heavy rock and doom impulses, London foggers Lasers from Atlantis seem more than content to play one off the other on this Extreme Ultimate issue of their self-titled, originally recorded in 2010. Classic prog and kraut-ish space idolatry rules the day on “Reverb City,” down to the Hawkwindy thrust out of the atmosphere, but by the time they get down to “Protectress,” track five of the total six, they’ve completely given over to low-end rumble, feedback viciousness and a still-swinging-but-much-much-darker groove. That might make the middle two cuts, “Illuminated Trail” and “Hopi Lori,” the most interesting of the bunch, and it’s especially on the latter where the two sides seem to meet, but it’s in “Hopi Lori” even more that the transition seems to take place and the band — Volkan Kiziltug and Aubrey Jackson Blake on synth, Theo Alexander on guitar/vocals and Pat Oddi on drums — make the turn toward consuming darkness that continues to ooze forth in “Protectress” and closer “Slaves,” which though it’s somewhat faster than the cut before it, is pure, high-order psychedelic doom. A band so willing to let go of their progressive edge when it suits them is a rare thing, which makes it a bummer that Lasers from Atlantis seem to have called it quits, but if it’s a posthumous release, their self-titled at least shows they were up to something interesting in their time together. Lasers from Atlantis on Thee Facebooks, Extreme Ultimate on Bandcamp.

Contra, Son of Beast

contra son of beast

Son of Beast is the debut offering from Cleveland trio Contra, and its four tracks could just as easily constitute a demo or an EP, whatever you want to call it, but with the lineup of guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer), bassist Adam Horwatt and drummer Aaron Brittain (Fistula), they come across as having a solid idea of what they’re looking for sound-wise, and their first outing is a solid one. Production is clean but not overly so on the three shorter pieces, and the seven-minute closer “Humanoid Therapy” follows-up on the mid-paced stonerism of “Snake Goat” by alternating from slower push to a more rushing pace. Instrumental for the duration, one can hear the places a vocalist might go on “Bottom Feeder” or “100 Hand Slap,” but Contra — who apparently owned both regular NES and Super Nintendo — don’t overstay their welcome either, proving cohesive in their fuzz, schooled in their groove and ready to start their development as a band, wherever it might take them. Contra on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

I’m going to try very, very hard not to let it go so long before the next round of adds. When I fail at that, you can feel free to call me out on it. In the meantime, to see all 31 releases that joined the playlist this afternoon, hit up The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page. It’s a good time.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Fall Tour Pt. 12: Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang and Kings Destroy in Cleveland, OH, 10.27.14

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

kings destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Scholars maintain that if you’re driving through Ohio for two hours, it’ll feel like at least four. I’ve yet to make my way through the Buckeye State that its flat expanse, constant construction and ever-visible police presence haven’t gotten inside my head. When we got to Cleveland and the band had their gear unloaded — because it was House of Blues and apparently that’s how it goes — I made my way down the block to a coffee shop and had a red eye, coffee with espresso shots, and sat for a bit. Made it back in time for Kings Destroy‘s soundcheck (I’m pretty sure that’s the order it happened in, to be honest there’s a bit of fog on the whole night; sober, sober fog) and got to watch that before doors opened.

It was the smaller room at House of Blues, or one of them anyway, but the sound was big and full and the P.A. blared bands that all sounded one way or another like Soundgarden and later Saint Vitus, and with just the four acts on the bill, the show got off to a reasonable start around 8:30 or so. By then people had shown up, but it wasn’t a sell out so there was room even at the most crowded point, probably halfway through Pentagram or thereabouts. Bands were pretty relaxed after the off-day from the tour, so it was a cool vibe both back and on stage.

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I think the chance to let loose in Lansing did Kings Destroy some good. They were back to the tour setlist, a shorter time on stage, but they got right into it and had solid energy the whole way through. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them be this locked in before, so it’s not necessarily a surprise, but it’s been enjoyable to watch either way, and with the House of Blues being all ages or at least 18-and-up, whatever it was, there were some actual kids there up front who seemed to get into it. By the time they were through “The Whittler,” which was second after the standard opener “Old Yeller,” the room was on their side, and though it was early, there was a healthy amount of noise after each song. “Smokey Robinson,” from the new album, was again a highlight, and I find that much like “Embers” on the last run, that’s the song I tend to gravitate toward every night. I pulled my earplugs part-way out to let a little more volume in, and no regrets. The House of Blues P.A. seemed to be keyed in for maximum low end the whole night, but that suited Kings Destroy well, their leads cutting through the rumble smoothly in the verses of “Blood of Recompense,” a winning finish even with its quiet ending.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

“Our Home,” “Idealist, Realist,” “Questions” — Bang have no shortage of liquified grooves. Of the four acts on the tour, they seem most to be enjoying the time on stage, bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara joking with the crowd about screwing up recordings and so on. Drummer Jake Leger was in his element behind the kit as Ferrara and guitarist Frank Gilcken came to the middle of the stage as they have at all these shows to revel in the fluidity of the material. Once again, the audience knew them. I stood next to the dude from Outlaw Recordings, who had done a vinyl issue of Bang‘s self-titled debut — also put out Victor Griffin‘s Late for an Early Grave 2004 solo offering — and he wasn’t even close to being the only one singing along, up to the point of some dude behind me filling in the line “Yet she never locked her bedroom door” after the stop in “Last Will and Testament.” If Bang have proven to be anything over the course of these shows, it’s been a good time, and House of Blues was no less fun than they’ve been all along, their smooth style and positive vibes winning favor among both those new to them and the already converted.

Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It cost them another kick-drum pedal, or it re-cost them the same one, but Radio Moscow utterly slayed the House of Blues. I don’t know if the sound was just right to pick up the richness of Anthony Meier‘s bass tone or what, the balance of the band is so much geared toward Parker Griggs‘ guitar work and ever-ready shred, but they were full and heavy and as they sprinted through the hairpin turns of “Mistreated Queen,” it was all I could do to keep from getting dizzy. Drummer Paul Marrone put on his usual clinic, and even when the pedal broke, there was no snapping the momentum they had working in their favor. “250 Miles” from 2009’s Brain Cycles has become a personal favorite, the trio lulling the audience into a false sense of security with the soft bluesy beginning only to bust out the rager jam of “Brain Cycles” itself immediately thereafter. They just kill it, every night. It’s what they do. And even in by-now-familiar go-tos like “Death of a Queen,” “Just Don’t Know” and “Broke Down,” they maintain a sense of volatility, of being just about to fly off the rails, without ever actually losing control. They’re easily one of the best live acts I’ve seen this year, and I’ve seen them more than 10 times now thus year, and have yet to come out of one of their sets not feeling like I just had my ass handed to me.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Every venue, every show, there’s the same voice yelling “Bobby!” in the exact same way. And I’ve looked around, it’s not someone traveling with the bands. Pentagram‘s Bobby Liebling is simply just that charismatic, that attention-drawing, that everywhere they play, people go off at the mere thought of seeing him on stage.Cleveland was no different, and Liebling was in good spirits, smiling at the crowd and cracking with bassist Greg Turley, doing his usual stage moves with/on Victor Griffin and nailing the vocals in “Frustration,” “Forever My Queen” and all the rest. The Animals cover has become a standard inclusion, and if they played “Lay down and Die,” I missed it, but the set was right on anyway, and even with a smaller crowd than some of these shows have had, LieblingGriffinTurley and drummer Sean Saley were clearly fired up as they made their way to and through the encore of “Be Forewarned” and “When the Screams Come,” the “Bobby!” shouts and “Pen-ta-gram” chants continuing even long after the singer had left the stage. Their resurgence along with that of Saint Vitus over the last half-decade only continues to prove the timelessness of doom  and of their contributions to it. Even after all the lineup changes they’ve been through and the years of turbulence, there’s only one Pentagram.

Was accosted by three homeless people outside the House of Blues. One said he had to catch a bus. One just asked for change. One cut to the chase and straight up asked for beer and/or weed. Despite these downtrodden apparitions, who indeed got all my change, load-out was done by the time I got around to asking if load-out was done, and we headed out to the motel with me at the wheel, as seems to have become the standard procedure. Got turned around owing to some highway construction, but sorted it eventually and got to the Red Roof Inn somewhere around 2AM, already looking forward to waking up this morning and being able to shower before heading to Pittsburgh.

More pics after the jump.

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