Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Lo-Pan Announce New Album Subtle out May 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Something tells me there will be very little subtle about it. I’ve heard odds and ends, heres and theres from Lo-Pan‘s impending fourth record. Just enough to tell you “it gonna be good” in however many words it takes me to type that out. The Columbus, Ohio, natives are due. It’s been five years since their third long-player, Colossus (review here), and though they released the In Tensions EP (review here) as a stopgap in 2017 — also their first outing for Aqualamb, which is releasing the new album as well — the forthcoming Subtle brings another level of intrigue entirely for being their first offering with Chris Thompson on guitar. And yeah, I think it’s gonna be pretty good.

It’s not every band I’d put together a news post for after I’ve already closed out the week. Most types, they wait until Monday. Lo-Pan aren’t most types.

From the PR wire:

lo-pan subtle

Lo-Pan to Release New LP, ‘Subtle’, May 17

Alt-Metal Bigs Blend Billowy Heaviness and Consummate Catchiness on Ambitious New Album

Respected hard rock band Lo-Pan will release its new LP, ‘Subtle’, on May 17 via Aqualamb Records. The Ohio group, known for its dichotomic sound which merges sturm und drang heaviness with relentlessly catchy, AOR laden melody, recorded the new album at both NYC’s Reservoir and The Union studios with Grammy Award winning producer James Brown (Foo Fighters, Ghost, NIN). Lo-Pan’s fourth record, ‘Subtle’ was mastered by famed engineer Ted Jensen (Alice in Chains, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Mastodon) and is the highly anticipated follow-up to the unit’s 2017 release, ‘In Tensions.’

It’s hardly a secret that some of the most potent hard rock ever rocked comes from the American midwest; places like Detroit and Cleveland, after all, have proven to serve as perfect inspiration for first-rate heavy music. Formed in 2005 and forged from the fire of more than 1,000 white hot live performances alongside peers such as High on Fire, Torche, KENmode and more, Lo-Pan’s “secret” is its unfuckwithable ability to create immersive rock music born of dynamic dazzle, progressive pummel and emotional energy. Silky, yet punishing.

With their fourth full-length, bassist Skot Thompson, drummer Jesse Bartz, guitarist Chris Thompson and singer Jeff Martin have pushed Lo-Pan’s already high ceiling straight through its proverbial roof. ‘Subtle’ opening track “10 Days” begins with the unmistakable static of a guitar being plugged in; an entryway to a beautifully gnarly riff that heralds an album built on heavy walls of sound and feeling, underpinned by the familiar collision of Bartz’s heavy hitting and Thompson’s sleek basslines, all in service to Martin’s transcendent vocal performances.

And as regards those vocal performances, the next cut, “Savage Heart” contains one of Martin’s most exceptional. The LP continues its flow with “Ascension Day,” a title that can’t help but recall post-rock progenitors Talk Talk at their most opaquely experimental, but Lo-Pan’s song of the same name is in an altogether different zone, moving forward on the strength of an unyielding groove while Martin’s frictionless vocal floats above it all. Things take a turn for the doomier on “Everything Burns,” a long slow-burner that relentlessly advances at a pace that makes every note hit HARD.

“This band has always been four corners coming together,” said Martin. “Nobody in this band comes from the same background, we often disagree on a lot of fundamental things, but it’s undeniable when we get together and it coalesces into the product of the four personalities. It hits me in my heart, and whenever I sing these songs I relive what I’m writing about. These are our most overtly and unapologetically hostile lyrics to date. I have always written what I think and feel.”

“Chris’ songwriting is more of an organic process while mine’s very robotic,” offers Skot Thompson. “And those two wiring processes tend to blend themselves together. There’s been a handful of songs on [Subtle] in particular where those two processes have melded into something beautiful. A lot of these songs are me, Chris, and Jesse putting things together, with Jeff layering things on top to make it more of a solid form.”

Track listing:
1.) 10 Days
2.) Savage Heart
3.) Ascension Day
4.) Sage
5.) Everything Burns
6.) Old News
7.) Bring Me A War
8.) A Thousand Miles
9.) Khan
10.) Butcher’s Bill
11.) The Law & The Swarm

Pre-order ‘Subtle’ at this location. The album will be released on LP with a sleeve designed by Eric Palmerlee, and as always for Aqualamb releases, as a 100 page art book/digital download package.

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://www.aqualamb.org
http://www.aqualamb.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/aqualambrecords

Lo-Pan, Subtle album teaser

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Pale Grey Lore to Begin Recording New Album This Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

New Pale Grey Lore, you say? 2019, you say? Playing Maryland Doom Fest, you say? Fascinating, captain.

Actually, if you happen to be in the area of their native Columbus, Ohio, this very evening, you can catch Pale Grey Lore opening for Le Butcherettes at Ace of Cups (event page here) — not that you shouldn’t see them as part of the ultra-stacked lineup for Maryland Doom Fest 2019 as well — but yes, the good news is indeed that the now-four-piece band will hit the studio this coming weekend in order to begin recording their second album. Of course, with the addition of Xander Roseberry on guitar and backing vocals, it’s bound to have something of a different dynamic than their righteously righteous 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but as so much of that album’s strength came from its songwriting, I wouldn’t necessarily about them getting too far away from what already worked so much in their favor. That impulse doesn’t just go away.

Oak Island Records picked up their first one for release but I’m not sure if that was a longterm deal or a one-off for just that record. One more level of intrigue to see if they issue the yet-untitled new outing through that label or end up shopping it around.

Here’s what they have to say about beginning the recording process:

pale grey lore (Photo by Dan Simone)

Pale Grey Lore – New Album

We were quite happy with the way the first album turned out so we’ve decided to work with Columbus engineer/producer Andy Sartain again for our second one. Once we explained what we were looking for and gave him some feedback on the early mixes, he was able to dial in pretty much exactly the sound we were looking for. Andy is super easy to work with and has a really great ear. He had a lot of cool production ideas and interesting suggestions that really improved the first album, so we’re looking forward to collaborating with him on this next one.

One big difference between the writing of the first and second albums obviously is the addition of Xander, our second guitarist, whose background in audio engineering definitely helped inform the songwriting this time around. With the first album, a good chunk of the core material was the result of live jam sessions in which Michael and Adam were testing out ideas and writing parts together. When Donovan joined the band, he was encouraged to re-interpret the existing material in his own style and collaborate in the rest of the writing process. We tracked a few basic demos to nail down some overdub ideas, but a lot of what you hear in terms of additional guitars and vocal harmonies on the first record was basically written in the studio.

By contrast, in preparation for the second album we were thinking about arrangements and production choices right from the start, which resulted in more complex and nuanced writing. This time, we were able to do more extensive demoing with Xander which allowed us to hear how certain ideas were being realized in playback and adjust our writing accordingly. We’ve been pretty pleased with the results, and we’re very excited about the material that will make up this new record.

Pale Grey Lore is:
Michael Miller (guitar, vocals, theremin)
Adam Miller (drums)
Donovan Johnson (bass)
Xander Roseberry (guitar, backing vocals)

https://www.facebook.com/palegreylore/
https://twitter.com/palegreylore
http://palegreylore.bigcartel.com/
http://palegreylore.bandcamp.com/

Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore (2016)

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Brujas del Sol Premiere “Sisterlace”; II Preorders Available; Art and Tracklisting Revealed

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

brujas del sol

We’re getting dangerously close to the previously-announced Oct. 19 release date for Brujas del Sol‘s second album, II. Preorders have gone up through the label, Kozmik Artifactz, and below, you’ll find the unveiling of the Will Fugman cover art and the tracklisting, as well as the premiere of the track “Sisterlace,” which is the first audio to come from the heavy progressive mostly-instrumentalists’ latest work. The song features on side A of the vinyl, following “Teenage Hitchhiker” and “Sea Rage,” and features a echoing tones that are spacious and resonant in a way that very much typifies a lot of what’s coming from the Columbus, Ohio-based four-piece, as well as vocals from guitarist Adrian Zambrano, which only serve to make it more memorable as it moves into a fuzzy crunch and uptempo push ahead of “Fringe of Senility,” which rounds out the first half of II with a New Wave/krautrocking feel still marked out by Zambrano‘s own drifting guitar.

Zambrano is joined in the band by bassist Derrick White, drummer Josh Oswald and keyboardist Phillip Reed, the latter two of whom would seem to have come aboard since 2015’s Starquake 7″ (review here), which followed the digital track “Occultation” and their prior full-length debut, 2013’s Moonliner. In the five years since that first outing, Brujas del Sol have undergone not just the lineup changes, but a process that makes them both more patient in their execution and also more purposeful as songwriters. II ranges pretty broadly, but it’s by no means inaccessible, tapping spacey Floyd and Hawkwind impulses and filtering through prog rock as only Rush fans could do.

Art, info and audio follow here. Dig:

brujas del sol ii

Adrian Zambrano on “Sisterlace”:

“Sisterlace” was the first song we wrote for this album and coincidentally, the first song we decided needed vocals. The title came to our bassist, Derrick, in a strange dream, which inspired us to write it. If we had to choose the quintessential Brujas song, with all the elements that define our band, this is it.

Preorders available at: http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/navi.php?suche=brujas+del+sol&lang=eng

Brujas del Sol, II tracklisting:
Teenage Hitchhiker
Sea Rage
Sisterlace
Fringe of Senility
White Lights
Polara
Spiritus

Album art work done by Will Fugman, http://willfugman.com/

The album release show is Nov. 9 at Rumba Cafe with Pale Grey Lore and Playing to Vapors.

Brujas del Sol is:
Adrian Zambrano – High end/Vocals
Derrick White – Low end
Josh Oswald – Percussion
Phillip Reed – Keyboards

https://www.facebook.com/BrujasdelSol/
https://brujasdelsol.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

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Akula Self-Titled LP out This Week on Hellmistress Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

akula

Ohio-based post-metal-tinged progressive heavy rockers Akula self-released their self-titled debut (discussed here) in the early hours of 2018, right about the time everyone’s New Year’s headaches were dissipating and it was time to get back to real life. The four-track outing arrived without much fanfare, which was true enough to the motivations behind its making — basically the players involved wanted to do a thing and they did it — but it doesn’t take much more than one listen, if that, to realize the thing deserves a place in physical reality. Hellmistress Records has stepped up to bring Akula‘s Akula into the third dimension and will have the record out later this week on limited 12″ vinyl and ye olde compact disc for those of us without an entire wing of the house to dedicate to our sprawling collections.

As it happens, I wrote the bio that’s included in the press release below (paragraph starting “Comprised of…” and ending with the sentence “It could take them…”), but with the issue-date fast approaching and obviously my thinking the album’s worth your time anyhow, what with the interview linked above, it seems only fair to mark the occasion, which the PR wire facilitates thusly:

akula akula

AKULA: Ohio-Based Progressive/Psychedelic Heavy Rock Collective Featuring Members Of Lo-Pan To Release Self-Titled Debut Via Hellmistress Records; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Ohio-Based progressive/psychedelic heavy rock collective AKULA — featuring within its ranks members of Lo-Pan — will release its self-titled debut September 28th via Hellmistress Records.

Comprised of four immersive tracks weighted as much in tone as emotional resonance, AKULA runs an atmospheric gamut led by the undulating and spacious riffing of guitarist Chris Thompson and Sergei Parfenov and the soulful melodies of vocalist Jeff Martin.

Martin is best known for his work in heavy rock unit Lo-Pan, but in the four songs of AKULA’s self-titled debut, he, Parfenov, Thompson (also now in Lo-Pan), bassist Scott Hyatt, and drummer Ronnie Miller hone an ambience that erases the line between progressive heavy rock and post-metal, capturing a vast reach on opener “A Pound Of Flesh” and holding it for the duration of the churning and memorable “Force Me Open,” the later crush in “Born Of Fire” and the consuming march that bookends twelve-minute closer “Predators.”

“I was feeling an overabundance of creative energy,” Martin explains. “I had been listening to a lot of heavier psychedelic stuff in the vein of YOB, Neurosis, and even some Mastodon. I knew Chris could do pretty much anything from seeing him play. I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in getting some people together for a purely fun project. He was all for it. I told him what I was thinking in terms of style and he said he actually already had some part ideas he had been messing around with that might be a fit.

“We talked about bass players and drummers and rhythm guitarists and invited some guys to meet up and discuss,” he continues. “And stylistically, everyone seemed to understand what we were looking for: a darker, heavier psychedelic sound with melodic vocals. Longer format and prog shifts seemed like a natural thing for everyone. So we got to work.”

The result of that work is as stylistically ambitious for AKULA as it is engaging for the listener, and the balance they strike belies the notion of Akula being their first full-length. Now aligned with Hellmistress Records for a physical release of the previously digital-only tracks, AKULA begins a larger exploration of sound with that same restlessness. It could take them just about anywhere.

Akula will be available on CD and limited-edition vinyl in three color variants – 150 baby blue/ opaque yellow/white bleed, 175 heavy orange splatter on translucent green, and 175 on translucent blue. For vinyl preorders, visit Hellmistress Records at THIS LOCATION. For CD orders go HERE.

Akula Track Listing:
1. A Pound Of Flesh
2. Force Me Open
3. Born Of Fire
4. Predators

http://www.facebook.com/akulaband/
https://akulaband.bandcamp.com/
http://hellmistressrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/hellmistressrecords
http://twitter.com/hellmistressrec
http://www.instagram.com/hellmistressrecords

Akula, Akula (2018)

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Brujas del Sol Sign to Kozmik Artifactz; New Album II out Oct. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Columbus, Ohio-based atmospheric heavy rockers Brujas del Sol — who might be more progressive than they are psychedelic but are still a pretty good bit of both and why quibble anyway? — have signed to Kozmik Artifactz. They’ll release their second album, titled simply II, through the storied imprint on Oct. 19 with the full vinyl treatment. The four-piece was last heard from with late-2015’s single, Starquake (review here), and II will follow some five years behind their 2013 debut, Moonliner. That outing was released through Devouter Records.

Brujas del Sol mark the latest in an impressive and geographically varied string of pickups for Kozmik Artifactz, which in addition to the label comprises one of the leading European distros, and one wonders if perhaps in aligning with them, Brujas del Sol might have eyes on a European tour sometime in 2019. Or maybe they just wanted to put the record out on wax. That’d be fair enough, and Kozmik Artifactz certainly seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to such things. I guess the point is kudos all around. I’ll hope to get to hear the album.

The label’s announcement follows here:

brujas del sol

***NEW SIGNING – BRUJAS DEL SOL***

Today we officially welcome Brujas del Sol to the Kozmik fold. We’ll be releasing their new album “II” on the 19th of October, on heavy weight gatefold vinyl.

“We are very thrilled to be a part of the Kozmik Artifactz family. It is an honour to be among such an incredible line-up of bands.

Our new album, II, comes on the tail end of big changes among the members in the band. Both musically and personally. With influences within the prog, psych and post-rock communities, we feel we will be a nice addition the Kozmik Krew.

Those who enjoy hypnotic rhythms, fuzzy and modulated guitars, pulsating analogue synthesis and songs that blend progressive, space rock and heavy influences will appreciate II.”

Brujas del Sol is:
Adrian – High end/Vocals
Derrick – Low end
Josh – Percussion
Phillip Reed – Keyboards

https://www.facebook.com/BrujasdelSol/
https://brujasdelsol.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Brujas del Sol, Starquake (2015)

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Weed Demon Post “Sigil of the Black Moon” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weed demon

With their debut album, Astrological Passages (review here), Columbus, Ohio, four-piece Weed Demon step into one of the country’s most vicious sludge legacies. There are few phrases that strike fear into the heart of pharmaceuticals like “Ohio sludge,” and with good reason. From Fistula and Rue to Rebreather and Sofa King Killer, the Buckeye State has produced landmarks for the genre to rival anything that’s come out of New Orleans or any of the other US hotbeds on the West or East Coasts. Issued by the band in 2017 and pressed to vinyl by Electric Valley Records, Weed Demon‘s four-tracker LP bring in shades of modern riff tectonics à la groups like Monolord and rumbles with a tonal heft that seems to extended even to the high end of their guitar solos. Vocals have a tendency to roar accordingly.

“Sigil of the Black Moon,” for which the band has a new video out, is the second-longest song on Astrological Passages at 10:46 — only closer “Jettisoned” tops it, at 12:37 — and is a fervent, lumbering beast of a track. Shades of Goya‘s ultra-stonerism pervade, but with the harsher edge, there’s little question where Weed Demon‘s collective corrupt heart lies in terms of style. You’d call it brutal and not be wrong. The band appear in the video, playing through the song in front of what looks like a really nice rock wall in someone’s living room maybe. They’ve got some candles set up around them and it’s all well and good. Then there’s another part of the video, where it cuts to this guy and his lady and they’re like covered in dirt makeup and chocolate sauce or whatever it is and making out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sit here and judge anyone’s kink, it’s just not the kind of thing you usually see in a sludge clip.

All the better, I guess. It’s pretty hilarious though to watch the guy in the mirror putting on his makeup and think of the Primordial video earlier this year that was basically their frontman doing the same thing. Context goes a long way.

The clip follows here, along with some PR wire background on its making and live dates.

Enjoy:

Weed Demon, “Sigil of the Black Moon” official video

WEED DEMON are pleased to reveal their new video for “Sigil Of The Black Moon”. The song is taken from the album Astrological Passages which is getting a fresh release on vinyl July 27th.

The band commented “We started working on the video for “Sigil” in August of last year. A handful of setbacks and numerous bowl packs later we finally got around to wrapping everything up. Seeing the final product was like a huge collective exhale for us. It’s no easy task to put together an almost 11 minute video. A huge thanks to Josh Richter for helping to keep the project moving forward. Keep it heavy. Keep it hazy.”

Weed Demon live:
Aug 10 The Green Lantern Lexington, KY
Aug 11 Urban Artifact Cincinnati, OH
Sep 13 The Spacebar Columbus, OH

Weed Demon is:
Jordan Holland – Bass, Vocals
Andy Center – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Brian Buckley – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Chris Windle – Drums

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages (2018)

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Weed Demon on Instagram

Weed Demon on Bandcamp

Electric Valley Records on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

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Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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