Lo-Pan, Subtle: Everything Burns

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan subtle

It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s been nearly five years since Lo-Pan last released an album. The Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers issued Colossus (review here) through Small Stone in Fall 2014, and subsequently dove headfirst into a succession of years of touring and tumult. About a month after Colossus, they announced guitarist Adrian Zambrano (Brujas del Sol) taking over for Brian Fristoe; touring followed in the familiar ground of the US and on the then-uncovered territory of Europe throughout 2015. Talk began of a new record and the band hit the studio even as more touring ensued in 2016, and then Zambrano left and Chris Thompson joined, making his debut appearance in 2017 at The Blackout Cookout 7 in Kent, Ohio. The material that Lo-Pan recorded with Zambrano, meanwhile, was released in early 2017 as the In Tensions EP (review here) and would be that year’s best short release.

Again, Lo-Pan went on tour, the four-piece of Thompson, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz running hard in 2017 only to step back last year and write and record what would become Subtle with their new lineup. Like In Tensions, the band’s fifth full-length releases through Aqualamb Records, and it arrives as they once again make ready to hit the road hard and tour at home and abroad before the end of 2019. Their commitment to what they do is admirable. In the midst of chaos and clashing personalities, Lo-Pan emerge to put forth 11 tracks/47 minutes of cohesive and few-frills songcraft. The songs, rooted in riffs and compositions by Thompson and/or Thompson (who are not related), feel as though they’ve had everything extraneous chipped away, leaving the essential components of expression.

That’s not to say Subtle is raw — far from it. With production by James Brown (GhostNine Inch Nails) in New York, the band have arguably never sounded so melodically accomplished. That’s mostly evident in Martin‘s stellar and soulful vocal performance, but it’s there in the guitar and bass as well, and even Bartz‘s crash seems to have a tunefulness about it. At the same time, structurally, songs like the opener “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day” and the later and suitably rolling “A Thousand Miles” channel powerful verses and strong hooks to a sense of urgency that Colossus brought to the fore but that’s smoothed out here in its tone and less outwardly aggressive in its overall affect. Of course, “Bring Me a War” still has its edge of confrontationalism, and likewise the early highlight “Savage Heart” and closer “The Law and the Swarm,” but the guitar tone is warmer, and that makes a difference.

The balance between these various sides and impulses, as well as the dynamic range in the massive crash of “Everything Burns” and the quieter midsection build of the penultimate “Butcher’s Bill” — I’ve always been a sucker for those moments when Lo-Pan hit the brakes on tempo — helps the band add a feeling of scope to Subtle, and as a bid for one of the best albums of 2019, it’s a blend of songwriting and performance that stands them out among would-be peers in heavy rock and roll. Though it’s anything but, Subtle is the output of a band who have mastered their approach and who still see fit to push themselves to new ground. Whether it’s the relentless shove of songs like “Sage” or the chug-into-happytime-chorus centerpiece “Old News” or even the more brooding “Khan!,” Lo-Pan stand triumphant in this material, and though it sounds hard-won, that only seems to make the victory sweeter.

lo-pan

It’s easy enough to read Subtle as a touring album in cuts like “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day,” “A Thousand Miles,” “Butcher’s Bill” “Sage” and “Bring Me a War,” on one level or another, as well as the cover art that seems to draw the eye to the desert sunset like moving down a highway laced with rows of shark teeth, but if Lo-Pan are chronicling the last few years of changes in the band and in their own lives at least in some degree within this material, then fair enough. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know (the finished vinyl and art-book editions include a lyric sheet), but if it is, then even in the slower “Butcher’s Bill,” they don’t sound anymore bogged down than is intended by the song itself. The album is not a minor undertaking at 47 minutes, but it’s not meant to be a minor undertaking. Even with its general lack of indulgence — as a guitarist, Thompson doesn’t take particularly sprawling solos, and Martin keeps layering to a relative minimum, saving harmonies for “The Law and the Swarm” and double-tracking for emphasis elsewhere — Subtle wants nothing for substance.

I’ll readily cop to being a fan of the band live and on record. Does it matter? I don’t know. I doubt it. As I understand it, the thing about Lo-Pan in how they function as a band is that they’re all very different people. I can’t speak to how often they hang out on weekends when they’re not touring, but in terms of the group itself, they’re able to channel that friction or that personality-clash into something special. Lo-Pan have been and remain one of America’s best heavy rock bands for the last decade-plus. Their second album, Sasquanaut (review here) — first released in 2009, then picked up by Small Stone in 2010 — and their third album, 2011’s Salvador (review here), were formative but pivotal works that helped establish the methods that Colossus and In Tensions and Subtle have refined and built on. They write and perform with soul that bleeds through every riff, bassline, drum hit and soaring vocal, and despite the ups and downs the last few years have wrought for them, Subtle stands tall and clean, having conquered a mountain of bullshit.

So yes, one of 2019’s best heavy rock albums. Fine. What seems more important is that Subtle finds Lo-Pan having come through so much without being derailed from what they do — “Ten days inside/Won’t break my stride,” Martin intones on the opener — and their central process remains vital even after being so tested leading up to this record. This is a band worth appreciating while they’re there to appreciate and the immediacy of these songs begs a likewise fervent response. Get into it.

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Lo-Pan Post “Ten Days” Video; Touring with C.O.C. & Crowbar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan

It’s been too damn long since the last time I saw Lo-Pan, but that’s something I’ll rectify at least twice as they head out in support of their new album, Subtle, due through Aqulamb on May 17. They’ll be at Maryland Doom Fest in June and then touring with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar in July/August. See you at Starland Ballroom, gents. Speaking of “been a long time…”

Anyhoozle, I’ve got Subtle slated for review on May 9 currently. Might move it depending on what comes along, but that’s where we’re at now, and so I’ll hold off getting too deep into the record, but the clip for opening track “Ten Days” tells a good portion of the Lo-Pan story. They have gone, and they go. Rain, sleet and snow. Their tour history is exhausting even to consider, let alone what’s ahead of them in heralding Subtle, but they are a live band to be sure. I won’t take away from their studio work at all, because golly their records kick ass up to and including the new one, but if you’ve ever caught them at a show, you know what I mean. They have a force to their delivery that is among the most potent I’ve caught in at least the last decade.

In addition to the shows below, they’ve also been announced for Up in Smoke and Keep it Low in Europe this October, so I expect more tour dates will be forthcoming, as those fests in Switzerland and Germany, respectively, run on consecutive weekends. I wouldn’t rule them out for Desertfest Belgium, which is Oct. 18-20 this year, either, but nothing has been announced. We’ll see. Either way they’ll be back over there in the Fall, and I don’t imagine the stint this summer with C.O.C. will be their only round of US touring either. Still the West Coast to hit, maybe in Winter or next Spring, depending on their timing. You never really know.

Until the announcement comes down the PR wire. Then you know.

But “Ten Days,” in addition to having a fervent thud and a brainmelter of a hook, captures a lot of the on-the-beat live energy Lo-Pan bring to Subtle. I’m a fan of the band and I won’t pretend otherwise either here or in the review to come, but even with what little objectivity I can muster, I’ll say that it’s righteous and they know it.

Clap your hands.

And enjoy:

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

The first single from respected hard rock band Lo-Pan’s new album “Subtle”, due May 17th via Aqualamb. Pre-order the new full-length LP now at http://aqualamb.bandcamp.com

“‘Ten Days” is a song about my ability to thrive just about anywhere with little or no preparation,” vocalist Jeff Martin says. “I have always felt that if you can survive 10 days of any uncomfortable situation, you can adapt, and adjust, and persevere. This song is a sort of reminder for me to follow through on my own bluster in that way. I talk a lot of shit. And sometimes I need to force myself to walk it like I talk it.”

This May, Lo-Pan will perform live as one of the featured acts at the 2019 Stoned and Dusted Festival, set for May 25-26 in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the special gathering, Lo-Pan will share the stage with Black Mountain, Brant Bjork, King Buffalo, Yawning Man, Melvins and more. For full details, visit this location.

In additional news, Lo-Pan has announced a summer North American tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar. Set to launch on July 26 in Poughkeepsie, NY, the month long tour will criss-cross the country, running through August 25 in Providence, RI.

Lo-Pan tour dates:

May 26 Joshua Tree, CA Stoned and Dusted Festival
June 21 Frederick, MD Maryland Doom Fest

Lo-Pan w/ Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar:
July 26 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
July 27 Syracuse, NY Westcott Theater
July 29 Kitchener, ON Dallas Nightclub
July 31 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
August 1 Grand Rapids, MI Elevation
August 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave II
August 5 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe at Old National Centre
August 6 Sauget, IL Pop’s
August 7 Omaha, NE Slowdown
August 10 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
August 11 Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theater
August 13 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
August 16 Tucson, AZ Encore
August 17 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
August 19 Austin, TX Come and Take It Live
August 21 Jacksonville , FL 1904 Music Hall
August 22 Jacksonville, NC The Tarheel
August 23 Virginia Beach, VA Elevation 27
August 24 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
August 25 Providence, RI Fete Music Hall

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

Lo-Pan website

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb Records website

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , ,

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

Tags: , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , ,

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)

Tags: , , , , ,