Review & Full Album Stream: Mouth, Vortex

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mouth vortex

[Click play above to stream Vortex by Mouth in its entirety. Album is out June 30 on Al!ve/Blunoise Records.]

Some eight years after releasing their debut, Rhizome, and 17 years after first getting together in 2000, German progressive classicists Mouth offer their second full-length in the form of Vortex. An album that winks its ’70s influences even unto its cover art, it finds the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Chris Koller, bassist Gerald Kirsch and drummer/keyboardist Nick Mavridis nestled easily and immediately into headphone-ready krautrock vibes that continue to spread out across the 56-minute release, which arrives bookended by two 16-minute tracks in opener “Vortex” and closer “Epilogue.”

King CrimsonPink FloydUriah Heep, BrainticketHawkwind, and so on, are of course reference points as they invariably would be, but like US-based outfit EyeMouth distinguish themselves through the fluidity of their composition — that opener arrives in four parts: “To the Centre,” “Turbulence,” “Silence” and “Vortex” itself — through creative arrangements of guitar around various key instruments and vintage-sounding synth, and through the overarching poise of their delivery.

That they’d be patient isn’t necessarily a surprise after being together so long in one form or another, but neither does Vortex lack drive, and even as “Vortex” — also the longest track at 16:36 (immediate points) — carries through the organ-soaked/lead-topped swirl of its “Silence” portion with spoken vocals behind its instrumental build, Mouth hold to a firm sense of forward direction and don’t simply meander to suit their own whims. And after all that cascading, the eponymous portion of “Vortex” caps with ambient synth, acoustic strum and far-back layers of electric guitar in what comes across very much as a final movement, so there’s a feeling of completeness to Vortex that, informed by the extended opener, continues throughout the proceedings that follow.

On the other end of the spectrum, one finds “Epilogue,” the corresponding finale that nearly matches the opener for runtime. It’s a slowly unfolding, three-stage (mostly) instrumental jam, languid and hypnotic, that gives way to silence after three and 12 minutes and finally leads to a sitar-infused hidden track of organ-laced psychedelia. Arguably the most intentionally molten stretch of Vortex, “Epilogue” is ultimately just that: the afterword from Mouth‘s long-form statement, and while when considering the launch and the landing, Vortex is already a considerable achievement in classic prog, there’s still significant stylistic expression happening in its journey through shorter tracks “March of the Cyclopes” (6:01), “Parade” (4:02), the centerpiece “Mountain” (3:43), “Into the Light” (7:07) and “Soon After…” (3:18), as the three-piece set to balancing their impulses toward willful complexity and cosmic psychedelia.

mouth

Despite some blown-out vocals, they do so gracefully from the start of “March of the Cyclopes,” shifting from early verses into a space-rocking midsection that draws the listener into its instrumentalist push and devolves into noise to finish out and lead into the fuzzy start of “Parade.” A more grounded shuffle at the start seems to nod at straight-ahead classic heavy rock in a way that realigns the listener’s mindset effectively, and even as church organ and other key lines play off one another, Mavridis‘ drums assure that all stays in motion as it should.

Dreamy guitar effects take hold circa the halfway point, and “Parade” also drives toward an apex like “March of the Cyclopes” before it — note how both tracks are ‘going somewhere’ in their titles; we’ll soon enough find destinations in “Mountain” and “Into the Light” — but it doesn’t come apart in the same way, holding to its chorus and ending cold on its organ line as toms start the climb through “Mountain.” Zeppelin-style acoustic strum and effected vocals hit backed by Mellotron in a secondary hook as the bouncing groove assures momentum is steadfast as Vortex moves into side B.

Cosmos and mind continue to blend on “Into the Light” — a winding keyboard line emitting a certain tension but never actually out of control or dissuaded from its forward direction — and “Soon After…,” which one might be tempted to call an interlude were its jazzy drum work and melodic wash of keys and guitar not so well executed, and though Mouth have by and large set the course that defines Vortex, the process of hearing them explore within that context satisfies all the same, especially as “Into the Light” seems to answer the more structured feel of “Parade” and “Mountain” with subtle shifts in approach, making the whole affair even richer than just its constructed layers can convey.

In wrapping the voyage, both “Soon After…” and “Epilogue” have a kind of understated triumph at their core, most especially the closer, which departs from the verses and choruses that follow “Vortex” in much the same way that the opener had little time for them to start with. This kind of parabolic oddity, coupled with the utterly liquefied aspect of Mouth‘s psychedelic lysergery, successfully conveys the experience of their years together, but Vortex is fresh and engaging despite being vintage in its form, and finds its best footing in a front-to-back open-minded listen from those ready and willing to be carried along by its resonant, expressive flow.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

Blunoise Records website

Al!ve website

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Milkbrother Release Self-Titled Debut EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

milkbrother

Following up on their 2014 debut long-player, Nocturnal, last year, German riff-crunchers Aleph Null offered what was apparently to be their swansong in the four-song Endtime Sisters EP. It couldn’t have been long after that that three-piece of Philip, Carsten and Jens went their separate ways that the former two decided to get Milkbrother going. The new two-piece tracked its debut EP, self-titled and, thus far, self-released, over the course of this past winter, and they’ve offered up its five tracks as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, pretty much issuing a handwritten invitation to anyone, whether they heard Aleph Null or not, to dig in.

By the end of nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Pigweed,” they’ve made a good case for doing so, with a sound that runs a line between psychedelia and grunge on its way to the more garage-doom-styled riffing and organ work of “Scent of Shrouds.” Classic pop rock melodies pervade deceptively heavy progressions, and for a first outing, Milkbrother‘s Milkbrother obviously benefits from the prior collaboration(s) of its makers, each of whom adopts a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist role throughout, making distinct statements on the dreamy centerpiece “Orchid Eye,” the classically riffed “The Clearance Between,” and progressively theatrical closer “T.I.E.R.”

The vibe’s kind of all over the place, but they handle it well. One looks forward to hearing what Milkbrother can do throughout a full-length stretch. Until then, here’s release info and audio:

milkbrother self-titled

Being mates for decades (in bands like Anti Doctrine, Aleph Null) and collaborating as a duo more than once (Jesus Terror Force, SLON), we present our latest project MILKBROTHER. For us it’s a journey to the origins of our influences focusing especially on the process of writing and recording.

Debut EP of Germany’s MILKBROTHER – from the ashes of Aleph Null (https://alephnull.bandcamp.com) rise this project, digging deep into vintage, mixing progressive, psychedelic and classic rock. Recorded in winter 2016/17.

Tracklisting:
1. Pigweed 09:18
2. Scent of Shrouds 05:09
3. Orchid Eye 03:41
4. The Clearance between 04:40
5. T.I.E.R. 04:17

Milkbrother is
Philip – Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Keys
Carsten – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys

https://www.facebook.com/Milkbrother.official/
https://milkbrother.bandcamp.com/

Milkbrother, Milkbrother (2017)

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Plainride Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Cheers to German heavy rockers Plainride on getting picked up by Californian imprint Ripple Music. The band issued their uptempo groover debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), last year, and as they join the formidable and increasingly populated Ripple lineup, their first release will be a reissue of their first outing, presumably to be followed at some point by a sophomore effort. We’ll get there when we get there. No doubt the Cologne natives are kicking back a few in celebration of their new alliance, and I wouldn’t argue, either with the band or the booze.

From the PR wire:

plainride ripple music-700

PLAINRIDE – Cologne-based Stoner Rock ‘n’ Rollers sign worldwide record deal with Californian label RIPPLE MUSIC

“Imagine a pack of rabid tumbleweeds sweeping across the hot desert sand of Mojave set on fire by the nearby explosion of a Dodge Challenger ‘69 driven into a fuel soaked pile of Orange Half-Stacks by four whole-body bearded lumberjacks dressed in bearskin.”

This sentence originated in 2013 as part of an attempt to describe a German band that had only just been tossed onto the face of the Earth: Plainride. Little did these guys know they had just created what would soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy of dramatic extent. Three years later, the band is ridiculously close to their own, ambitious vision of themselves. Let’s recap: Beards? Check. Orange Amps? Check. Mojave? Well, kinda.

When you’ve got Plainride spinning on your turntable, you will barely believe these guys are in fact not from California, but from Cologne. Sweat-drippin’ drums, high voltage guitars, wailing solos and a voice so frenetic, one might assume the Beast himself took control of the mic.

That said, it comes to little surprise that Plainride eventually teamed up with Ripple Music from San Ramon, CA. The dedicated rock label will kick things off with a re-release of “Return Of The Jackalope”, the bands’ ferocious debut album, which had first been unveiled in Summer 2015. The re-issue is scheduled for this winter and will include a digital release on all platforms, a CD, a double vinyl release, and world-wide distribution.

While this is undeniably a huge step, Plainride keeps on rolling with their sympathetic down-to-earth attitude, as singer Max confirms: „We’re not a business band at any rate. Rehearsals are what makes my week worthwhile. Hanging and rocking out with the guys, frequenting shady concerts – that stuff is like sex to me: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good! The day we decide to stop making fun of ourselves should be the day someone takes away our guitars and punches us in the face.” Beer-fueled banter aside, these guys aren’t in it just for the heck of it: “We always had the ambition to achieve as much as possible while staying true to our founding spirit. Signing with Ripple Music is an awesome and humbling opportunity for us and I’ll be damned if we’re not gonna work off our asses to honor that!”

https://www.facebook.com/PLAINRIDE.Official/
http://plainride.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Plainride, Day of the Jackalope (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Sourvein, Mantar, Elevators to the Grateful Sky, The Poisoned Glass, Spirit Collector, Phiasco, The Cosmic Dead, Postures, Estoner, The Black Explosion

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Well here we are. Standing on the precipice of a week of 50 reviews, looking out together at the geographic and sonic expanses that will be covered. I never know entirely what a given Quarterly Review is going to bring. Some have been smooth, some not. This one is being put together very little pre-production in terms of chasing down band links and that sort of thing, so I expect it’s going to be an adventure one way or another. I’ll keep you updated as we go as to my mental state and the deterioration thereof.

If you don’t know the drill, The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review is a week every three months in which I review 10 albums per day, Monday through Friday. Some of it was released in the prior three months, some of it is brand new, some of it probably isn’t out yet, some of it is probably older. It’s all relevant one way or another. I hope you find something you enjoy.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sourvein, Aquatic Occult

Sourvein Aquatic Occult

Looking at the makeup of Sourvein’s much-awaited fourth album, Aquatic Occult (on Metal Blade), it’s understandable why it might’ve taken five years to put together. Yes, they had splits out in between, as they do, but the band’s last full-length was 2011’s Black Fangs (review here), and though the 14-song/42-minute Aquatic Occult is manageable, with a host of interludes to carry the listener along its thick-toned, undulating waves, a swath of guest appearances no doubt played havoc with logistics. Fortunately, Sourvein’s figurehead, vocalist T-Roy Medlin, seems to thrive on chaos. Working with producer Mike Dean (C.O.C.), and a revolving-door lineup that here features Lou Gorra of Halfway to Gone, Medlin brazenly explores a more melodic dynamic than he ever has. It’s a rare band looking to experiment after 20 years, a rarer band still that pulls it off so well. There’s still some sludgy rasp and guest growling, but Sabbathian roll is the order of the day ultimately and Medlin’s homage to his home in Cape Fear, North Carolina, establishes a breadth unheard before from Sourvein that’s worthy of the years and obvious effort that went into its making.

Sourvein on Thee Facebooks

Sourvein at Metal Blade Records

 

Mantar, Ode to the Flame

Mantar Ode To The Flame

Hamburg duo Mantar’s blend of thrash, sludge and blackened doom is brash, righteously punkish and thus far uncompromised in its malevolent intent. On their second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Ode to the Flame, songs like “Era Borealis” swagger as much as they sneer, the middle-finger-up arrogance becoming part of the appeal. “The Hint” offers some tinge of melody and “I Omen” some organ-laced atmospherics, but Mantar, who debuted in 2015 with the also fire-minded Death by Burning (review here) on Svart, carry their extremity forward like the next logical step of the same impulses that High on Fire once brought forth. Their tempo shifts, from blazing squibblies to outright lumbering, are pulled off with due fuckall, and the shouts from guitarist/vocalist Hanno and drummer/vocalist Erinc are spit forth in a manner near-indecipherable but still have no trouble getting their point across. Mantar are positioning themselves to be the kick in the ass that the underground needs. The next few years (and albums) will see how that pans out, but for now they have two scorchers under their collective belt.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Mantar at Nuclear Blast

 

Elevators to the Grateful Sky, Cape Yawn

elevators to the grateful sky cape yawn

There is a stylistic restlessness to stretches of Elevators to the Grateful Sky’s second record, Cape Yawn (on HeviSike), that becomes the uniting factor between the adrenaline-amped opening with “Ground” and “Bullet Words” and the later dream-surf Yawning Man-meets-sax unfurling of the title-track. The Palermo, Italy, outfit have stated their intention as capturing a blend of ‘90s alternative and modern heavy. Fair enough, but hearing that play out on the penultimate “Mountain Ship” in a mix of weighted riffing and laid back vocals giving way to shouts, it seems that to me that next time out, Elevators to the Grateful Sky should probably just start saying they sound like themselves, because they do. Granted, they’re pulling elements from familiar sources – Soundgarden, Kyuss, etc. – but in giving them new context, the four-piece are defining their sound as moving fluidly between the various styles, and that’s to be commended. The more you put into listening, the more you’ll get out of it.

Elevators to the Grateful Sky on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

 

The Poisoned Glass, 10 Swords

the poisoned glass 10 swords-700

Representing a 50 percent reunion of Burning Witch, the droning contemplations and hellish atmospherics of The Poisoned GlassRitual Productions debut, 10 Swords, pique immediate interest. And bassist/percussionist/etc.-ist G. Stuart Dahlquist and vocalist/keyboardist Edgy 59 do not disappoint. With unspeakable patience, they execute six grueling and cinematic pieces that seem to find comfort in tortured expression and that feel claustrophobic even as they continue to expand outward and downward through “Plume Veil” and “Toil and Trouble” into the extended closing duo “Silent Vigil” – spoiler alert: not actually silent – and “Low Spirits,” which moves from minimalist stillness through far-back screams and into a wash of synth before its seven minutes are up, covering more ground in one track than some bands do in their entire career. Fair to say on the whole 10 Swords is an immersive listen, but the prevailing vibe is much less “diving in” than “being swallowed whole by some obscure medieval terror.” So, you know, watch out for that.

The Poisoned Glass on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions on Bandcamp

 

Spirit Collector, Owls to Athens

spirit collector owls to athens-700

Los Angeles newcomers Spirit Collector make their debut with the self-released, three-song Owls to Athens EP, clear in its intent and brimming with airy, post-rock-derived guitar atmospherics. A particularly telling moment arrives with the Terence McKenna sample in centerpiece “Reclaim Your Mind,” which speaks of casting off the culture of celebrity worship for a richer human experience, but it’s in the extended closer “Theosophy” (7:57) that Spirit Collector find their footing someplace between a doomed plod and thoughtful psychedelia, picking up a chugging momentum as they push through toward the almost blackened finish, having come a surprising distance since their eponymous opener set the tone for expanse. An encouraging first offering if somewhat familiar superficially as instrumental heavy post-rock (think Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles, Red Sparowes, etc.), and there’s nothing in Owls to Athens to make one think Spirit Collector can’t move forward and develop the experimental drive they begin to show here.

Spirit Collector on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Collector on Bandcamp

 

Phiasco, Vieh

phiasco vieh

Vieh, the debut full-length from Colonge-based desert rocking foursome Phiasco, takes its name from the German word for “cattle.” The band owe some of their fuzz to Truckfighters and some of their psychedelic wash to Sungrazer, but the attitude in songs like “Ultimate Warrior” – comprised largely of riffs topped with an extended sample from the titular professional wrestler – and “Sunndown” is their own, as is the we’re-still-having-a-really-good-time-while-we-make-this-15-minute-song closer “Phisco” (sic), a highlight of the live-recorded full-length, which across its span is light on pretense and heavy on bounce. Cuts like “Old Town” and opener “Back to the Future” – hey, that’s a movie! – bring catchy hooks, and the uptempo “Erasing Rabbits with My Phaserlight” winds up as harmonized as goofed out, and thus is all the more engaging. There’s a certain amount of getting by on charm here, but Phiasco have a capable, varied songwriting process that’s given due fullness and clarity in these eight tracks.

Phiasco on Thee Facebooks

Phiasco on Bandcamp

 

The Cosmic Dead, Rainbowhead

the-cosmic-dead-rainbowhead

Man, who gives a shit about anything else when Glaswegian five-piece The Cosmic Dead are enacting their hypnotic swirl? Their latest instrumental invitation to watch existence melt is called Rainbowhead and it arrives through Paradigms Recordings (CD) and Blackest Rainbow Records (LP) with four tracks that serve as the band’s first full-length since 2014’s EasterFaust, though they’ve had splits in between to keep a prolific rate of offerings fitting for their explorational heavy psych/space rock. The bulk of Rainbowhead is engagingly upbeat as side A plays out across “Human Sausage,” “Skye Burial” and the 13-minute “Inner C,” and side B’s 18-minute title-track follows suit as The Cosmic Dead seem to have found a similar niche between progressive rock and psych to that which Mammatus proffered on their most recent outing. It suits The Cosmic Dead, and they keep an improv vibe prevalent as ever, grasping the subconscious with trip-on-it lysergic pulsations.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Paradigms Recordings website

Blackest Rainbow Records website

 

Postures, Halucinda

postures halucinda

Deeply textured and lush in its construction around guitar arrangements, percussive and keyboard-laden melodic flourish, Postures’ second full-length, Halucinda (on World in Sound), plays back and forth between prog and heavy rock impulses. The Gothenburg, Sweden, five-piece seem most at home in extended tracks like “Myriad Man,” “Every Room” and the jazzy 10-minute “Wavemaker,” but even the acoustic-led centerpiece interlude “A Million Sequences” invites the audience to turn up the volume for maximum wash effect. Paulina Nyström delivers a powerful, commanding and fluid vocal performance, and while the rhythm section of bassist Per Pettersson and drummer Isak Björhag are the foundation on which these complex structures play out – Viktor Andersson and Benjamin Watts handle guitar; Madeleine Sjögren is credited with backing vocals/keys and Margit Gyllspång percussion/backing vocals – there’s no angle from which Postures don’t come across rich and vital in their winding but well-plotted course, one song feeding fluidly to the next until the dreamy “In the Dark” rounds out with the emotional apex of the record.

Postures on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound Records

 

Estoner, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis

estoner lennud saatana dimensioonis

What else to call a stoner band from Estonia? Estoner’s appeal, however, goes well beyond their moniker. The Tallinn-based outfit’s second album, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis, arrives in a handmade hexagonal CD package, heat sealed, as well as with complete visual accompaniment on limited VHS and cassette via Golem Records. The music is no less relentlessly creative, running a gamut between prog, black metal, heavy rock, psychedelia, space rock and probably a few others in its seven-track course. A song like “Teleporteerumine” conjures darkened swirl and “Reptiloid” follows through with foreboding threat, but Estoner plunge even deeper as they go, proferring aesthetic reach that makes seemingly disparate elements work together fluidly on “Hüvasti, Kosmiline Monoliit” and the 10-minute closing title-track. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis is to call it Svart-worthy, as its diverse means of engulfing the listener speak to a forward-thinking approach that one can only hope Estoner continue to develop.

Estoner on Thee Facebooks

Estoner on Bandcamp

 

The Black Explosion, Atomic Zod War

Unbenannt-1

Extra points to Swedish troupe The Black Explosion for opening their third album, the space-fuzzed out Atomic Zod War (on Metalville Records), with its longest track, the 13-minute “Paralyzed.” That song offers a languid voyage through uncharted jammy reaches, and that sets an open, laid back expectation that the rest of the album seems only too glad to build on, from the Nebula-via-Monster Magnet blown out vibes of “Ain’t Coming Home” to the semi-garage buzz of “Going Down,” a highlight groove that emphasizes the natural, raw tones at play leading into “Get My Mind Together” and the finisher “Devil Inside,” which brings the guitar of Chris Winter (also Dollhouse) forward with backing from bassist Simon Haraldsson and drummer Andreas Lindquist that feels born of the new West Coast tradition but is likely playing off of older impulses. But for its hey-look-it’s-tits cover art, the grit Atomic Zod War offers comes through organically and draws the listener in with its live feel and underlying boogie.

The Black Explosion on Thee Facebooks

Metalville Records

 

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Quarterly Review: Corrections House, Antimatter, Colossus, Bastard Lord, Monocluster, Valley, Shatner, Australasia, The Moth Gatherer, Super Witch

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Well, this is where we hit and pass the halfway point. It’s been a good week so far. Busy, but good. I hope you’ve found something that you dig or agree with or whatnot. I know it’s kind of hard to dig through 10 releases at once, but even if you see cover art that strikes a nerve, going with that impulse is rarely a bad idea, particularly when the level of commitment involved is clicking play on a Bandcamp player to get a taste. Pretty wide range today, so let’s dig in.

Quarterly review #21-30:

Corrections House, Know How to Carry a Whip

corrections house know how to carry a whip

Since they made their debut as a unit in 2013 with Last City Zero (also on Neurot), the don’t-call-it-a-supergroup Corrections House – vocalist Mike Williams (Eyehategod), guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly (Neurosis), saxophonist/vocalist Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest) and programmer Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea) – have spread their bleak gospel of totalitarian industrial vehemence to audiences in the US and Europe. Their second offering, Know How to Carry a Whip, is bolder sound-wise and retains a very human, punk rock core with Williams’ sneer playing off Kelly’s gutturalism on “White Man’s Gonna Lose” and nearly goes goth in doing the same with Lamont in the later “When Push Comes to Shank,” but across the 45-minute span, the songs remain in the key of abrasion, and ultimately that’s what most unites them. As noisy as closer “Burn the Witness” gets, I can’t help but think of the acoustic, Lamont-led centerpiece “Visions Divide” as the bleakest moment of the record, twisting folkish conventions into a dystopian soundscape, but Williams’ spoken drug-poetry on “I was Never Good at Meth” provides stiff competition.

Corrections House on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings

Antimatter, The Judas Table

The Judas Table

Lush in its arrangements and doling out extreme measures of melancholy across its 56 minutes, Antimatter’s sixth album, The Judas Table (on Prophecy Productions), brings sonic depth to bear in rich textures of electric and acoustic guitars, keys, and the strength-through-fragility vocals of remaining founder and songwriter Mick Moss. The group’s last offering, 2012’s Fear of a Unique Identity (review here), pushed them into fuller tones, and an early cut like “Killer” builds on that, but the crux of The Judas Table is in subdued and brooding pieces like “Little Piggy,” remorseful and seething in kind as it moves through an acoustic-led arrangement marked out by strings and a sense of grace. “Integrity” asks the question, “What’s the point if no one else has any?” and sets a depressive run through one of the record’s grader builds, but Antimatter are hardly contained to one style here, as the New Wave inflection on “Can of Worms” or the rumbling apex of highlight “Stillborn Empires” demonstrate.

Antimatter on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions

Colossus, The Breathing World

colossus the breathing world

Not to be confused with their Swedish countrymen who operated under the same moniker and whose lineup included a post-and-pre-Candlemass Messiah Marcolin, Stockholm’s Colossus play a decidedly progressive blend of Peaceville-style doom and metal, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Niklas Eriksson, bassist Peter Berg and drummer Thomas Norstedt adding a near-immediate inflection toward the epic via Primordial-style vocal patterning on opener “Yehi Aour/Wanderers” that holds for much of their 48-minute sophomore outing, The Breathing World (on Perennity Records). “Darkling Root” and more so the chugging “Fuga Mundi” delve into blackened fare in the guitar, but it’s just one of an array of genres in Colossus’ arsenal and in the case of the latter, soon enough complemented by Opethian prog noodling and soulful vocalizing. These turns, which more often than not happen in an instant, are a great strength of The Breathing World, but would fall flat without the crisp, confident delivery the band provides leading to the grand sprawl and long fade of 10-minute closer, “The Silent City.”

Colossus on Thee Facebooks

Colossus on Bandcamp

Bastard Lord, Bastard Lord

bastard lord bastard lord

One thing we’ve learned about Twin Earth Records thus far into the long-established label’s recent surge of activity is that it knows tone when it hears it. Thus comes treading Bastard Lord out of Buffalo, New York, whose four-song self-titled debut was initially self-released and remastered for a CD issue, rumble-fuzzing a murky Sabbath worship that oozes from the amps of bassist/vocalist David Braymiller and guitarist Mike Hermann – hard to tell at times in 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cimmerian” where the one instrument ends and the other begins – and set to a suitable plod by Jeremy Coupe’s drumming. It’s little surprise when they pay homage to “Snowblind” in “Wormwood,” but the psychedelic edge in Braymiller’s vocals – drowned in effects, buried in the mix; both appropriately so – gives Bastard Lord a personality of its own the holds even into the faster closer “Into the Sea,” a Toner Low-style lysergic depth unflinching through that song and “Summoner” before it as Bastard Lord emerge from the mire with their intentions clear.

Bastard Lord on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records

Monocluster, Monocluster

monocluster monocluster

One might be forgiven for entering into Monocluster’s self-titled, self-released debut album with an expectation for traditional stoner rock, between the band’s moniker and album cover – and if that’s what came through in playing the 35-minute, five-track outing, I very likely wouldn’t complain – but the German-language four-piece subtly veer into and out of spacier interludes in cuts like “Dantes Inferno” and “8 Stunden” and the later “Ich Atme” pushes even further along those lines, jamming out vast and echoing over a foundational bassline that holds the track together before it stops outright and resurfaces with Monocluster’s most righteous single nod. Centerpiece “Straße” demonstrates a touch of Colour Haze influence as well, but on the whole the Cologne four-piece seem headed in a different direction, and as the 10-minute closer “12 Minuten” ranges farther and heavier than everything before it, I’m only more intrigued to find out where they might end up. Heavy psych that’s not afraid to tighten up and make a more pointed impact when it feels one is needed.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

Valley, Sunburst

valley sunburst

I have two reasons for writing a review of Valley’s Sunburst EP, and they are both ridiculously simple. Yes, the Swedish five-piece were featured in two podcasts (one here, one here) and mentioned in the roundup of 2015’s best short releases – however, reviewing Sunburst now gives me another excuse to put it back on and it gives me something to fall back to later when I’m praising the crap out of whatever they do next and want to link a past review. Simple reasons. If you haven’t yet heard the 2015 debut outing from the Stockholm post-heavy rock instrumentalists, basked in the warm, organic psychedelia of “Tunguska” and “Kiro” or the peaceful folk-jam of “Dream Shooter, Golden!” and the tense-and-release percussion and sample-topped progressive course of “Picture Puzzle Pattern Door,” then you have quite simply missed out. I’m sure plenty have and plenty more will liken it to a desert sound – in no small part because of the cover art – but the smooth melodicism goes beyond landscape here and is made to be appreciated regardless of climate or locale.

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Version Studio Records

Shatner, EP

shatner ep

An edge of Northeastern aggression is unmistakable at the core of Shatner’s 20-minute self-released six-track EP. Based in Boston, the tree-piece boasts guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey (Black Thai, We’re all Gonna Die), bassist/backing vocalist Jesse Sherman (We’re all Gonna Die) and drummer Rob Davol (Cocked ‘n’ Loaded), and so a touch of anger isn’t unexpected given the personnel – even Healey’s acoustic work has brooding tension underlying – but if “Special” and “Black Market Liver” are variations on an ongoing theme, they’re of consistent quality in terms of songwriting, and the Thin Lizzy cover “Bad Reputation” is positioned well just past the halfway point to add variety amid a slew of potent hooks. Not their first time working together, but Healey and Sherman’s voices complement each other well on “Dead in Your Eyes” and “Death Reheated,” and with the solid foundation that Davol provides throughout, Shatner’s EP is an encouraging start to what’s hopefully an ongoing development.

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Australasia, Notturno

australasia-notturno

Harvested, sometimes manipulated samples and synthesized textures permeate Notturno, the mostly-instrumental second album from Italian atmospheric project Australasia. Comprised solely of Gian Spalluto, it’s somewhat more surprising that songs like the cascading “Lumen” and “Kern” are able to conjure such full-band progressions, but layering was bound to be a factor one way or another in Australasia’s approach, so if it’s Spalluto’s vision at play, so be it. Sonically, the impression of much of the material – including the guest-vocalized centerpiece “Invisibile” – winds up somewhere between the dystopian ambience of Red Sparowes and the brighter aspirations of post-black metallers Alcest, but songs like “Haxo” and the closing title-track, a (mostly) solo piano piece, have a cinematic edge as well. Rather than play one side against the other, Spalluto brings them together in one overarching flow that engages conceptually and sonically throughout a nine-track/39-minute course that willfully refuses to acknowledge a line between post-rock and post-metal.

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Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings

The Moth Gatherer, The Earth is the Sky

the moth gatherer the earth is the sky

Synth ambience and distorted severity meet head-on with the second full-length from Swedish post-metallers The Moth Gatherer, The Earth is the Sky (on Agonia Records). Produced over a two-year span with Karl Daniel Lidén (Greenleaf, VAKA, etc.), it punishes intensely on “The Black Antlers” with no less underlying fluidity than it had on the quietly atmospheric “Dyatlov Pass” preceding, the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Alex Stjernfeldt, guitarist/vocalist/programmer Victor Wegeborn, guitarist Ronny Westphal and drummer Svante Karlsson finding a place sound-wise that swaps between peaceful and threatening, delving into extreme progressive metal and electronica in kind on “Attacus Atlas” while setting up the consuming, gradual push of 11-minute closer “In Awe Before the Rapture,” which seems in conversation with the synth of the earlier “Probing the Descent of Man” in creating a layered structure of sound, while also attempting to marry the various impulses displayed throughout. Familiar to a degree, but immersive in its bringing earth and sky together.

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Agonia Records

Super Witch, Super Witch has Risen

super witch super witch has risen

You might wonder just what kind of neighborhood it is that would pair “The House that Dripped Blood” next door to “House of Warlocks” – perhaps that street is on the “Island of Lost Souls” – but then you probably wouldn’t get the crux of Memphis heavy punk foursome Super Witch’s debut full-length, Super Witch Has Risen, which has tales of horror front to back, “Spaceship Cadillac” notwithstanding. The Tennessean outfit dip into garage grunge on “Night of the Hunter” and stomp out call and response and Melvins chug on on “The Need,” show some more patient swing on “Smash Your Own Face,” but it’s “Army of Werewolves” and the opening “Super Witch Has Risen” that tell the story of the band’s intent more than the semi-swirl of “Smash Your Own Face” or the all-the-way swirl of closer “With the Lights Out,” as satisfying as the closer is in pulling off a rare feat – psychedelic punk. Split between two recording sessions, there are some changes in sound throughout, but it would take a supernatural force to derail Super Witch from their underlying purpose.

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Plainride Stream “Devil at Your Heels” from Debut LP Return of the Jackalope

Posted in audiObelisk on June 25th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

plainride

For those unfamiliar, a jackalope is essentially a mythical jackrabbit with antlers. Why German heavy rock four-piece Plainride might’ve chosen a jackalope as there mascot, where that jackalope might have gone and what might have led it to come back, I couldn’t really say, but if Return of the Jackalope, the raucous Cologne outfit’s debut album, proves anything, it’s that when the jackalope came back, he brought the party with him. Primo high-energy fuzz delivery in the spirit of Truckfighters ensues throughout the record’s 13-count-’em-13 tracks, delivered via Beerfuzz Records, and neither in its approach nor its 71-minute runtime is the album shy about going completely over the top to make its point. Led by guitarist/vocalist Max Rebel, and with Fabe van Fuzz on guitar, Leo on bass and Damian the Brute on drums (the presumably less brutish Andrew plays on the record), they show little interest in letting up and instead take a desert-cruising forward drive that varies in its burl and brashness but rarely steps away from beer-drenched riffery in its extended course.

To call it single-minded might be missing the point. Return of the Jackalope should come plainride return of the jackalopewith a warning not to operate heavy machinery under its influence, the rush at its fiercest is bound to lead at least to some poor decision-making. To that end, I’m happy today to present “Devil at Your Heels,” a top-speed later cut from Plainride that’s buried deep in the reaches of Return of the Jackalope but a standout nonetheless for anyone who might take it on. More throttled than “Return of the Jackalope” itself or “(The Beards upon) Mt. Rushmore,” it precedes closer “Warpdrive” and is one of several boots to the ass the band delivers along the way. Return of the Jackalope is a lot to experience in one sitting. It’s entirely possible that Plainride will exhaust you long before they run out of breath — spoiler alert: they don’t — but while they packed two albums’ worth of album into their debut, there’s something about the sheer willpower in so doing that makes it hard not to admire. Anyone can put out a 35-minute record. Plainride are about to put out two and call it one. Take that, convention.

Return of the Jackalope is out July 24 on Beerfuzz — preorders are available now — and no doubt will be followed by a due bit of road-dogging riotousness. More on that as I hear it, but for now, catch a glimpse of the otherworldly beast with the clip Plainride put together for “Devil at Your Heels” below, and please enjoy:

Plainride, “Devil at Your Heels”

Imagine a pack of rabid tumbleweeds sweeping across the hot desert sand of Mojave set on fire by the nearby explosion of a Dodge Challenger ’69 driven into a fuel soaked pile of Orange Half-Stacks by four whole-body bearded lumberjacks dressed in bearskin.

You still follow? Good.

Now what if I tell you said lumberjacks use guitar strings as dental floss and consider alligator-wrestling the most innocent part of their childhood? There you go.

Inspired by Stoner Rock legends like Clutch as well as European Half-Gods Planet Of Zeus and Stoner Train, we here at PLAINRIDE practice what we consider one of the finest Genres ever to emerge from the sacred ashes of the 70’s.

Earth Rockin’ Drums, A beard growth inducing Bass, Fuzzomental Guitars, the Roar of a Wolfman and a whole lotta beer. Ah yeah – and we got those nasty lil’ Jackalopes all over the place. They’re like… F*cking everywhere. What’s up with that, man?

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Preorder at Lo-Fi Merchandise

Preorder at Ozium Records

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