Conclave Post Video for “Mammut”; Playing Maryland Doom Fest

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

conclave

It’s been almost a year to the day since Massachusetts death-doomers Conclave unleashed their debut album, Sins of the Elders (review here), on an unsuspecting New England doomscape. What was without a doubt one of 2016’s finest first records, the nine-tracker proved to be an onslaught of lurching extremity, as vicious in its intentions as it was cohesive in its executions. That is, it knew it wanted to kill you, it knew how it wanted to kill you, and it knew why. With roots in death metallers Desolate as well as outfits like Warhorse and Grief — one could not ask for richer names than those when it comes to slow-motion New England extremity — Conclave‘s force of delivery arrived backed by a landmark pedigree, but ultimately stood on its own when it came to oppressiveness of atmosphere and assault.

Later this month, Conclave will take part in this year’s Maryland Doom Fest, sharing a bill on Saturday, June 24 with BangWo FatEarthrideThe WatchersSerpents of SecrecyKing BisonHeavy TempleThe WellWitches of God and Black Tar Prophet. Formidable company, to say the least. And no doubt that with their brutal ways, Conclave will stand out even performing early in the day as they are, but they bring a sense of darkness and hopelessness to their material that no one they’ll be sharing the stage will even attempt to match, and in starting the afternoon off, they’ll do so with arguably the most doomed doom of a remarkably doomy day. That’s not to take anything away from what anyone else is doing — because that bill frickin’ rules, make no mistake — but ain’t nobody offering the kind of abyss Conclave are offering.

Seriously. This post is here because they have a video for the track “Mammut,” and hey, that’s super — even with the vague glorification of war and whatnot that accompanies — but I’ve also gone ahead and included the Bandcamp stream of the full Sins of the Elders album at the bottom of the post, because if you haven’t lost yourself yet in its grim plod, you should take the time to do so.

Either way you go, I hope you enjoy the trip:

Conclave, “Mammut” official video

Video for the song Mammut by Conclave from New England off of the full length album Sins Of The Elders released in 2016. This video was inspired by the brutal German tank called the Mammut and is footage from WW2 taken from the perspective of the Germans.

Sins Of The Elders was recorded and mixed November 2015 through January 2016 at Ravens Head Studio in Allston, MA with “Tall” Eric Braunschweiger and Conclave. The album was mastered in February of 2016 at New Alliance East in Cambridge, MA with Nick “Z” Zampiello.

Jerry Orne: Bass/Vocals
Jeremy Kibort: Rhythm & Lead Guitars/Backing Vocals
Terry Savastano: Rhythm & Lead Guitars
Dan Blomquist: Drums & Percussion

Conclave, Sins of the Elders (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 debut albums of 2016

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

Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.

To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.

And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.

Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.

And so it is:

KING BUFFALO ORION

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment

Honorable Mention

There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.

For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red LamaRed Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.

Notes

It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.

They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.

From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.

A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.

It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.

As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.

Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.

And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.

Thanks for reading.

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Conclave, Sins of the Elders: Cold Comforts

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

conclave-sins-of-the-elders

On no level is Sins of the Elders a minor undertaking. The debut full-length from Conclave arrives via PATAC Records and Lost Apparitions Records as a 63-minute-long slab of doomed punishment, telling much of the story of its sound with its cover: harsh, draconian, violent. Stoned to death. And so they are. Marked out by their lineup featuring members of unsung heroes Warhorse in bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne and Noreaster sludge bastards Grief in guitarist Terry Savastano, along with guitarist Jeremy Kibort and drummer Dan Blomquist, Conclave bring a pedigree of extremity into their debut that builds on the downward vibes of their 2014 debut EP, Breaking Ground (review here), while seeming to build an impenetrable wall with its heft of both tone and atmosphere. Easy listening it is not.

Recorded by Eric Braunschweiger at Raven’s Head Studio in MA, the majority of the nine tracks on Sins of the Elders — which I actually suspect is something of a gag title; the band being the elders, the songs being the sins — rests comfortably in the eight-to-nine-minute range, with the exception of the intro “Descend,” the quiet outro “Kaltas” and the more raging “Cold Comfort,” positioned before the pre-outro title-track, and its feel becomes as much about the entire forward slog than any individual piece’s bludgeonry. Standout moments like the second half of centerpiece “Mammut,” with its German samples and war sounds and landmark riff, and the chorus of “Cut it Off” prior, do much to anchor the proceedings, but taken as a whole, the cruel design of Sins of the Elders is encompassing in its darkness and unremittingly extreme.

That’s not to say it doesn’t groove, because it absolutely does, just that it has the absolute potential to overwhelm some listeners and that’s according to what sounds like the band’s obvious intent. Those averse to growling vocals will bristle at Orne‘s gruff, sometimes grunted, delivery, timed rhythmically to the riffs and almost universally miserable-sounding, but it’s an essential component in the atmosphere Conclave conjure. Credit to Blomquist for making a track like “Funeral Fyre” — which follows the quiet, spacious, raining, spoken-word-over-guitar intro “Descend” — have such a sense of march. While KibortSavastano and Orne are chugging away at the second verse, the drummer is subtly injecting a bit of swing and getting away with it admirably, double-kicking through a quick standout lead section and a late chorus before crashes complement the rumbling and sparse, mournful guitar ending, which leads right into “Black Lines.”

conclave

Slower at its start, “Black Lines” is among the album’s most aggressive cuts by the time it gets to the midpoint, and damn near uptempo in its last minute-plus, picking up a faster riff and riding it toward the eight-minute finish line. The aforementioned “Cut it Off” follows, finding some balance in terms of pacing but letting go of none of the severity for its relatively straightforward verse/chorus structure, breaking in the second half after its first guitar solo to bridge to a second, longer one before another faster ending takes complete hold, almost blindsiding the listener even though they did basically the same thing one song before. Easier to pull that kind of thing off when you have a varied songwriting process, it would seem.

Air raid sirens blare at the start of “Mammut” and the intro riff to the song itself serves as the bomb being dropped. Fair enough. Apart from the already-noted samples, “Mammut” is the only instrumental on Sins of the Elders apart from the opener and closer, and all the more interesting that they should make it the centerpiece, but it leads into the grueling and massive “Aethereum,” which echoes out its central guitar figure over a rolling beat that somewhat revives the march of “Funeral Fyre” but turns toward a guitar solo in its midsection and then back for another round through the verse and chorus before its fade. One might expect “Cold Comfort” as the only non-segue track under seven minutes long to be faster or more geared toward the death metal side of Conclave‘s sound, but it isn’t, really.

Like its surroundings, it lacks nothing for force, but doesn’t seem to be willfully readjusting the scales when it comes to one aspect of their personality over the other as it makes its way toward the title-track, which is the longest cut on Sins of the Elders at 9:31 and from which no light seems to escape. Between Orne‘s shouts and the push of guitars, bass and drums accompanying, its second half particularly is like a revelry of the damned, moving toward and through a chorus and solo that serve as the album’s apex before finishing noisy and turning over to the quiet guitar, bass and cymbal wash of “Kaltas” that bring the madness to an end. That Conclave would have an idea of what they wanted to accomplish going into their first full-length isn’t really a surprise given their experience and what they were able to bring to the prior EP, but Sins of the Elders excels in its pummel and its blend of heavy riffing and harder sentiments. It is brutal in concept and execution.

Conclave on Thee Facebooks

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Conclave Post “Aethereum” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

conclave aethereum cover

However the usage came about, it’s hard to argue with bringing together footage of a star being torn apart by a black hole with the grueling, massive doom that Conclave bring to bear. The Massachusetts four-piece’s debut LP, Sins of the Elders, is due out June 10 via Lost Apparitions Records and PATAC Records, and their new video for the track “Aethereum” reminds me of one of the very few things I miss most about having regular tv service: the NASA Channel.

I don’t know for sure, but I’d gather much of the footage culled together to make the “Aethereum” clip comes from video news releases — VNRs, for you Communications majors — and the NASA Channel used to show that kind of thing all the time. There’d be a brief explanation of what simulation or captured footage you were about to see actually was, and then they’d show you a clip of whatever length of awesome space stuff like sunspots, satellites shooting through orbit, planetary collisions, spacecraft design, really anything. It was awesome. Obviously Conclave have curated that and edited it to fit the rhythm and what’s-bleaker-than-bleak-oh-yeah-dead vibe of “Aethereum,” but when it comes to space, cosmic-level destructiveness is part of the appeal.

So it is with Conclave as well. If you missed it, the track “Black Lines” from Sins of the Elders was previously streamed here. You’ll find the “Aethereum” video below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Hope you enjoy:

Conclave, “Aethereum” official video

Sins Of The Elders is the forthcoming full-length from Massachusetts-based doom metal faction CONCLAVE. Captured at Raven’s Head Studio in Allston, Massachusetts with Eric Braunschweiger at the recording helm, with Sins Of The Elders the members of CONCLAVE — which unites Warhorse, Grief, Disrupt, Desolate, and Martyrvor alumni — fuse their death and doom influences into a unique amalgam of heavy grooves, pounding sludge and melodic doom.

Issues the band of the track, “‘Aethereum’ was written in minor keys with a feeling of darkness in tribute to the great forefathers of doom that paved the road before us. The lyrical concept is that of falling through space, time and all ethereal planes. It brought forth thoughts of the infinite vastness of space, the extremes of temperature, light and sound or absence thereof. Other parallels were drawn from the stories of World War II naval convoys traveling to Murmansk and the conditions those soldiers lived and died under. Hell is real and it extends beyond Earth and throughout the cosmos.”

CONCLAVE:
5/13/2016 One Bar & Grill/Pearl St. – Northampton, MA
6/30/2016 Ralph’s Rock Diner – Worcester, MA * Record Release Show
6/23/2016 Grub Sweat & Beers Fest @ O’Brien’s – Cambridge, MA
8/27/2016 RPM Fest – Greenfield, MA

CONCLAVE:
Jerry Orne – bass, vocals
Jeremy Kibort – guitars, backing vocals
Terrenza Savastano – guitars
Dan Blomquist – drums, percussion

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Lost Apparitions Records

PATAC Records

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Conclave Premiere “Black Lines”; Debut Album Sins of the Elders Due in June

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

conclave (Photo by Hillarie Jason)

In its raw grit, fierce depressiveness and underlying teeth-clenched aggression, Conclave‘s debut album, Sins of the Elders pummels as much in atmosphere as in sound. The Massachusetts four-piece are right to call its intro “Descend,” since that’s exactly what happens, and as the deathly “Funeral Fyre” and “Black Lines” take hold from there, the only place to go is further and further downward.

Conclave will release Sins of the Elders on June 10 via Lost Apparitions Records (CD) and PATAC Records (tape). The band is comprised of bassist/vocalist Jerry Orne (ex-Warhorse), guitarist Terry Savastano (ex-Grief), guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Kibort and drummer Dan Blomquist, and the harsh judgments cast throughout the nine conclave sins of the eldersincluded tracks bear out that pedigree of things grooving and miserable. A scorcher like “Aethereum” and the maddeningly chugging title-track are as much classic death metal as they are doomed, and Blomquist‘s ride and tom work in “Cold Comfort” — not to mention all that shouting and growling — is pure extremity in a long East Coast tradition, but Conclave‘s debut is no less emotionally grueling than it is sonically raging.

Recorded by Eric Braunschweiger at Raven’s Head Studio in MA, Sins of the Elders follows the band’s 2014 debut EP, Breaking Ground (review here), and expands both the command and the crush of that release with an assured direction toward abysmal sludge, the metal of death, and consuming disaffection. In the slow, dense roll of “Cut it Off” and the quiet acoustic closer “Kaltas” alike, Conclave maintain an oppressive feel that dares the listener to keep moving forward along its plotted course.

I’ll have more on the album closer to the release, but you can find the premiere of the track “Black Lines” below, followed by some more bio info on the band, which I seem to recall having some hand in editing. Go figure.

Not sure if “enjoy” is the right word, but enjoy anyway:

conclave sins of the elders poster

Massachusetts four-piece Conclave not only draw on the inspirations of bands such as Black Sabbath, EyeHateGod and Autopsy with their debut full-length, ”Sins of the Elders”, but combine their death and doom influences into a unique blend of heavy grooves, pounding sludge and melodic doom; all of which tantalize the listener to dig further. Their sound emerges difficult to categorize, but still pleasing to fans of all facets of metal.

With a musical resume that includes such acts as WarHorse, Grief, Disrupt, Desolate and Martyrvore, it would only make sense that this New England collective are no strangers to working with record labels such as Relapse, Southern Lord and Century Media. Through several bands and projects together, Conclave’s members have honed their approach to a bludgeoning impact, and their album is the culmination of everything they’ve experienced to this point, musically and personally.

”Sins of the Elders” was recorded with Eric Braunschweiger and Raven’s Head Studio in Allston, MA. Building off their 2014 self-released EP “Breaking Ground”, the band offers 9 tracks of staggeringly heavy and atmospheric oppression and continue to stamp out their own musical path. There will be no bowing down to trends or watering down the riffs with this band. It’s pure and honest metal in an uncompromised form. “Sins of the Elders” will be released on CD format through Lost Apparitions Records and on cassette tape format through PATAC Records on June 10, 2016.

Conclave are:
Jerry Orne – Bass and vocals
Jeremy Kibort – Rhythm/lead guitars and backing vocals
Terrenza Savastano – Rhythm/lead guitars
Dan Blomquist – Drums/percussion

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Lost Apparitions Records

PATAC Records

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