Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

arduini balich

When I finally got to sit with it and give the respectful listen it deserved, I had the most powerful oh-shit-this-is-the-real-deal moment with Arduini / Balich‘s Dawn of Ages (review here) that I’ve have with any single record in 2017. Released by Cruz del Sur Music, the 78-minute full-length is rife with an energy born of classic and progressive metal, and while it earns immediate interest owing to the pedigree of its core duo of vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance, currently of Argus) and guitarist/composer Victor Arduini (formerly of Fates Warning and Freedoms Reign, currently of Entierro), it’s the poise and righteousness of the six originals and three bonus covers that make Dawn of Ages stand among 2017’s finest debuts and finest albums overall.

Granted, it’s an undertaking with the aforementioned 2LP runtime — even without the covers it tops an hour — but to listen to extended pieces like “The Wraith” (13:44) and “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27), one finds Arduini / Balich capturing the essence of a place somewhere between progressive and power metal, the Connecticut-based guitarist and Pennsylvania-based vocalist, as well as drummer Chris Judge (a bandmate of Arduini‘s in Freedoms Reign), bringing out highlight performances as crisp in their execution as they are complex in their construction as they are worthy of a neck-breaking headbang session on “Forever Fade.” There are flashes of traditional doom throughout “Into Exile,” opener “The Fallen” and the brief instrumental “The Gates of Acheron,” but while that darker side of the metal spectrum is acknowledged in a take on Black Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead),” that cover is no less an appropriate inclusion on Dawn of Ages than Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” or The Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune” in emphasizing the vast swath of ground Arduini / Balich traverse across their original material.

In terms of composition, recording process and the potential for Arduini / Balich to continue forward as an ongoing project, there was a lot of fodder for discussion here, and fortunately, Victor Arduini was happy to oblige, even going to far as to address each of the questions-within-the-questions individually, taking on the whole thing and leaving nothing out. That effort is deeply appreciated, to be sure, and as I dig in once again to Dawn of Ages (which you’ll also find streaming at the bottom of this post) for what I suspect won’t nearly be the last time, it’s great to know that at some point in the future there just might be a sophomore outing to come.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

arduini balich dawn of ages

Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Tell me how the Arduini / Balich project got started. What was the impetus behind writing these songs? How did they come together and when did Butch and Chris become involved? What was it you wanted to do differently coming off of Freedoms Reign?

I began writing new music towards the end of Freedoms Reign’s promotional tour. I was already moving on emotionally from what that band was about and had my “10 seconds as a singer” out of my system. I just wanted to get back to playing guitar and focusing on creating some riffs that would challenge me as a guitarist and musician. I told the guys I was going to do a solo-project where I could allow myself the freedom to produce an album where I could be free to let my ideas breath without any restrictions.

It was all an emotional connection to the music I was getting back into after some years away from my roots in Fates. With social media, YouTube and internet radio, I was like a sponge soaking up so much new music that I didn’t know existed. I was becoming inspired by learning there were so many great bands and artists out there still putting out some very cool music.

I would come up with riffs at home and present them to Chris to see how he would interpret them. Usually we would jam on them and other ideas would naturally follow. We spent about six months working stuff out and Chris was able to put down his drum tracks to the basic structure. I spent the next year writing and recording all the guitars and creating layer upon layer of music that transformed the songs into what became the music for the album. I found it difficult to find a singer who had the right voice and wound be into the music I created.

I originally was going to have a singer from Brazil but found it too difficult to work out. Brian and I knew each other from doing some shows together and he literally reached out the day I let the other singer go. We talked and he was really into the music I shared. It took some time with our schedules but Brian took the songs one by one and wrote some incredible lyrics along with some very emotional and power vocals which I think are the best he’s ever done.

I wanted to create music that spoke from my soul without worry or restrictions to style, length or sound. I knew it would be heavy and dark and as Chris and I worked them out it became progressive as well with the different time signatures and complexity of the arrangements.

What was the timeline like from start to finish on Dawn of Ages? How long were you recording the songs and how were they pieced together? How much did the material develop in the studio as opposed to being plotted out beforehand?

It took a little over two years from start to finish. There were times it had to be put on hold which helped me relook at things and make adjustments along the way. I don’t think it would have been as complex if it was completed sooner as I ended up adding a lot of ideas when there was nothing else to do with it.

The demo phase lasted about six months where I’d take home the ideas from rehearsal and piece things together until we had a rough structure from start to finish. Chris did his drum tracks pretty quickly but from there it was over a year of layering various sounds, solos, etc. “The Wraith”’s drums are actually from a rehearsal which I was able to piece together and utilize for the final album.

[The material developed in the studio] Quite a bit. I mean I’d create riffs which became the structure but from there I had no idea of all the layers that would end up over it. There were many nights of just messing around and every so often some magic would come out of it. Some stuff I still don’t know where it came from. I guess that’s a blessing from being in a creative moment which I’ve always admired from The Beatles in their later recordings.

Talk about self-producing in this new context. How was your working relationship with Nick Bellmore? How did it compare to your time in the studio with Entierro or Freedoms Reign?

To me [self-producing] was what made the album so personal. I took the time to work out the arrangements and trying out different sounds, approaches and ideas get what was in my head onto tape. I love working in my studio and would try out all kinds of mixes and reevaluating until I was happy. Producing your own music works if you have a strong idea of what you want from it and you don’t care to please anyone but yourself. Making music is a passion and having the ability to put together such a project was very special and rewarding to me.

Nick is so good at what he does. As a drummer he helped me get some great tracks down and always could create the sound and mood I was looking for. I did just about all the guitars at home including the sounds I wanted but he always was there as an extra ear and helped me ensure it was always sonically as good as it could be. He is just a great guy and teaches me along the way which ends up helping us both do bigger and better things together. Nick actually played drums on “Forever Fade,” and two of the bonus tracks, “Sunrise” and “After All (The Dead).”

When I recorded with FR it was the typical format of everyone laying down their individual tracks as they had worked them out for rehearsal. With A/B, it was mostly experimentation with no restrictions. I could make any decision without running it by others which is why one is called a band and this was a true solo-project.

Tell me about writing “Beyond the Barricade.”

That song took on a life of its own. There was no previous idea of writing such an epic. I just took the song piece by piece and it seemed to build upon itself at rehearsal. Week after week we would jam what we had and new riffs and ideas flowed which we always got onto tape. I’d take it home and work stuff out maybe writing something new and when we played again it just kept evolving. The cool thing is we were able to play the basic structure from start to finish. It was just all the layers and sounds which took it to another level. Again I was at a creative peak during that time and it was easier than you’d think.

What was behind the decision to include the three covers, and how were each of those tracks chosen?

We had the opportunity to do a 2LP vinyl but when laying it out we really had three sides so Brian and I started throwing ideas out to cover. “Sunrise” was something I wanted to do since I saw Brian earlier in the year and heard him sing to it in his car. “After All” was something I always felt Brian could nail and I love playing Sabbath. Brian brought “Wolf” to my attention and I was mesmerized by its beauty and ode to the trippy ‘60s vibe. It was one of the toughest songs to interpret and record.

Will you do more as Arduini / Balich? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I think so. Brian and I are very proud of this album and thoroughly enjoyed the process of making it and working together which is first and foremost why we do it. We’ve discussed doing the next one which I hope will happen but there’s no timeline. What I enjoyed most about doing this one was the natural creativity that inspired it and the joy of its process. I became so emotionally attached to it and I need some time to move away for a bit. I just don’t want to force anything and would like to come back to it all when I feel there’s something new to say. Most likely by early next year I’ll messing around and we’ll go from there.

I just want to say to anyone who’s checked it out how thankful I am that you did so and appreciate your support and interest. We were both pretty floored by the response and it’s cool when someone breaks it down and you can tell they really listened and got what we were trying to achieve. Thanks so much.

Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages (2017)

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Arduini / Balich on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Landing Announce Tour Dates & Taeppe EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

landing

Connecticut heavy psych drifters Landing are heading out at the end of June and into July for a tour that will take them as far west as Utah and all the way down to Atlanta in a matter of about two weeks’ time. The three-piece issued the full-length Third Sight (review here) last year through respected purveyor El Paraiso Records, and as they make ready to hit the road they’ll do so with a new, limited, tour-exclusive cassette in tow.

Titled Taeppe and presumably pronounced “tape,” the new offering will be a one-time pressing and only available at gigs, so if you don’t happen to make it out to a show, I guess tough luck, though maybe if we start a letter-writing campaign or something they’ll put a couple up on Bandcamp. They’ve got preorders up now ahead of an official June 27 release with a streaming track — also called “Tape” — that you can check out at the bottom of this post, beneath the tour announcement and some more PR-wire-type background.

Dig it:

landing tour

We’re hitting the road!

To coincide with the tour, we’re releasing a limited edition cassette EP titled “Taeppe” that will only be available at the shows. Pre-order link here: https://landing.bandcamp.com/album/taeppe-ep

June 27- Red Cross House, Northampton, MA
June 28- This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton, ON
June 29- UFO Factory, Detroit, MI
June 30- State Street, Indianapolis, IN
July 1- Foam, St. Louis, MO
July 2- Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis, MN
July 3- Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA
July 5- Diabolical Records, SLC, UT
July 8- Cheer Up Charlie’s, Austin, TX
July 9- Gasa Gasa, New Orleans, LA
July 10- 529, Atlanta, GA
July 11- Neptune’s, Raleigh, NC
July 12- TBA, Lynchburg, VA

Hope to see you out there!!

Bio:

Connecticut’s Landing have specialized in a mild and rural kind of psychedelia over the course of nearly two decades. Recent releases have seen them closer to post-punk and shoegaze territory than ever, but Third Sight – recorded specifically for El Paraiso Records’ Impetus series – builds on the hallucinatory soundscapes of the band’s earliest days.

And despite releasing one brilliant album after another the band remains appalingly under-appreciated. Perhaps because the tryyps Landing take are rooted in self-exploration. As trends in krautrock, drone, folk, and psychedelia ebb and flow, Landing remain unfazed. The door to Landing’s world is open, but there isn’t a flashing neon sign above it. These guys are far removed from the hustle and bustle of geographic cultural bubbles, both physically and spiritually.

Landing lineup for Taeppe EP:
Adrienne Snow • Vocals
Daron Gardner • Bass/Drones
Aaron Snow • Guitar/Synth/Drums/Bass/Vocals
Kryssi Battalene • Guitar on Side A
John Miller • Drums on “Together”

https://www.facebook.com/Landingtryyps
https://landing.bandcamp.com/
http://landingsite.net/
http://elparaisorecords.com/artists/landing
https://www.facebook.com/elparaisorecords/

Landing, Taeppe (2017)

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Curse the Son Post “Isolator” Video; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

curse the son

Though they haven’t been known over the course of their three albums for being a touring band, Connecticut’s Curse the Son are getting out a bit more over the next few months as we head into Spring and Summer, and they’re sharing the stage with some awesome acts along the way. Not to take anything away from playing with The Obsessed, Karma to Burn and Lo-Pan in Hamden or Sea of Bones and Come to Grief in Wallingford — both CT shows and awesome bills — but it’s awesome to see the three-piece heading down to Brooklyn to meet up with Eternal Black, or out to Ohio for a gig with Pale Grey Lore, to Philly with Wasted Theory or to Maryland for the Sludgement Day Festival. It’s not a five-week stretch across Europe, but I have absolutely no doubt they’ll turn heads their way at each and every one of those shows, and of course that’s what it’s all about.

Curse the Son will release their 2016 album, Isolator (review here), via Ripple Music and The Company Records on April 7. To mark its (re-)arrival, they’ve got a video for the title-track playing now. I had occasion recently to pick up a copy of their 2009 demo, Globus Hystericus, and listening to that and then revisiting the latest offering, the growth the band has undertaken in the years between them — across 2011’s Klonopain (review here), 2012’s Psychache (review here), and most pointedly on Isolator — is palpable.

Really, take the five minutes to dig into the “Isolator” video and then think about how clear-headed the song is in its purpose. It knows exactly what it wants to accomplish in vibe and structure and it goes about the business of that free of drama, needless indulgences and bullshit. It offers hook, tone, groove and melody and in that, it perfectly represents the album from whence it comes.

These guys are and have been a well-kept secret of the New England underground for years now. Maybe as they start to show up in some new places in 2017, they’ll finally get some of the wider attention they’ve long since been due.

Enjoy the video below, followed by the live dates off the PR wire:

Curse the Son, “Isolator” official video

Filmed and Directed by Billy Freeman for Surge Unlimited. From the album “Isolator” available through Ripple Music.

Released in 2016 and easily Curse the Son’s best album to date, Isolator showcases a band ready to push the limits of the stoner/doom genre, yet still revel in all of its gloomy goodness. Taking their song writing talents up a gear while simultaneously connecting on a spiritual level with their audience, Isolator was met with an overwhelming response by both critics and fans alike and on 7th April will get an official, worldwide release via Ripple Music (CD/Digital)/The Company (Vinyl).

Tour Dates:
4th May – Buzzbin Shop, Canton OH (w. Pale Grey Lore & Goosed)
5th May – Howlers, Pittsburgh, PA (w. Brimstone Coven)
6th May – TBA
19th May – The Outerspace Ballroom, Hamden, CT (w. The Obsessed, Karma to Burn and Lo Pan)
1st June – Ralph’s Rock Diner, Worcester, MA
2nd June – Shakeen, Manchester, NH (w. Thunderhawk and more TBA)
3rd June – TBA
20th June – Lucky 13, Brooklyn, NY (w. Eternal Black, Clouds Taste Satanic and Mantis Mass)
21st July – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA (w. Wasted Theory, The Age of Truth and Goat Wizard)
22nd July – Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD (Sludgement Day Festival)
25th August – Cherry St. Station, Wallingford, CT (w. Sea Of Bones and Come to Grief)

Curse The Son:
Ron Vanacore – Guitars, Vocals
Michael Petrucci – Drums
Brendan Keefe – Bass

Curse the Son on Thee Facebooks

Curse the Son on Bandcamp

The Company Records BigCartel store

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Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Review & Track Premiere: Godstopper & Grizzlor, Split 7″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godstopper grizzlor split

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Down Here for Long’ by Godstopper from the Godstopper & Grizzlor split single, out Feb. 17 on Corpse Flower Records.]

Who doesn’t like a quick shot of weirdo noise? From the alliteration of their two names to the madcap, wackydoodle stylizations they deliver on one side, then the other, there isn’t really a level on which the Godstopper and Grizzlor split 7″ from Corpse Flower Records doesn’t live up to its promise. Because basically it promises weirdo noise. Each act — in this corner, Godstopper on side A, from Toronto, Ontario; and in this corner, Grizzlor on side B, from New Haven, Connecticut — has some measure of extreme underpinning, though what they most share in common is a refusal to limit themselves to that. To wit, Grizzlor‘s last 7″, Cycloptic (review here), was rife with grinding elements.

This time? It’s the punker push of “Jack and Diane.” It’s been a while since I’ve heard from Godstopper, who released their debut album, What Matters (discussed here), in 2012 to follow their Empty Crawlspace tape (streamed here) and answered it with Lie Down in 2015, but the line they cross between aggressive noise and alternate-universe pop quirk remains decidedly their own on their two inclusions here: “Down Here for Long” and “Cellophane.” Met with the stomp of Grizzlor‘s “Are You Doing Your Job” and the aforementioned “Jack and Diane,” the split totals just about 12 minutes in length but uses that time masterfully to engage a strange and cerebral vibe. I don’t know if it was the label who got them together or some action on the part of the bands themselves, but they are exceedingly well paired, and it lends the release a genuine sense of curation.

Because of that, and because it arrives as part of an ongoing series from Corpse Flower, one tends to think it was the party responsible for setting the whole thing up, but again, Godstopper and Grizzlor make good neighbors for each other. Both are as much art-gallery as they are barroom-corner, and though it’s short, the split between them benefits from a variety of sound that works on a per-track basis, not merely one divided up by two groups each doing their own thing. For Godstopper — the lineup of guitarists Mike Simpson (also vocals) and Derek del Vecchio, bassist Miranda Armstrong and drummer Adam McGillivray — they open with the two-and-a-half-minute crunch of “Down Here for Long,” which takes on a ’90s-style dissonant push and thud but is neither lacking for the modern in its tonality nor void of melody.

godstopper grizzlor split

Its hook is arguably the most straightforward of the release — “Jack and Diane” is not, as it turns out, a John Mellencamp cover — and it’s met with a blend of intense thrust and roll that, in the context of how quick the track moves through, is doubly impressive for its efficiency. Their “Cellophane,” then, of course plays off a line of toy-piano-sounding guitar (I think) anchored by Armstrong‘s bassline, bizarre pop backing vocals, and Simpson‘s almost taunting croon. One could call the whole thing post-Mike Patton, but that’s hardly a descriptive measure, and Godstopper don’t seem to have any of the the snide condescension to their experimentation that defines that part of the Ipecac oeuvre. That said, they’d probably be a boon to the label precisely for that reason.

The bass hits hard enough in a start-stop progression and the drums march along correspondingly in “Are You Doing Your Job” to make me think Grizzlor are playing off Brown Album-era Primus, though I wouldn’t actually hazard a guess at their influences one way or another. Working as the two-piece of Victor Dowgiallo (guitar/vocals/engineering) and John Mohr (drums) while crediting Beef McMeat with bass — whom the Mark Rudolph artwork for the release liner has a charming drawing of the band with a cow between them to represent — Grizzlor are for sure the more abrasive of the two acts, and they give “Jack and Diane” a suitable roughing-up, turning the Americana pop of the original into a sneering punker thrust that devolves into noisy thrust, laughter and guitar-driven cacophony before deftly turning back to a last, tense verse and cutting short there with a quick build and hard stop, leaving only needle-skipping noise afterwards with some creepy drone and crackling in the background.

Just in case the actual material wasn’t already weird enough, the tack-on at the end drives the point home without question, and in that works well to underscore the idea of just how easily a band can go where they want when they want after setting their own rules. Really. Both Godstopper and Grizzlor make it plain on this split that they’re going to do whatever the hell they want at any given moment, and yet the entirety of the offering lacks nothing for flow, and with two differing approaches, comes across as cohesive as side A moves into side B. It probably shouldn’t make sense, but it does — almost in spite of itself — and while I’m not sure either band would take that as a compliment to their work, that’s certainly how it was intended.

Godstopper on Thee Facebooks

Godstopper on Bandcamp

Grizzlor on Thee Facebooks

Grizzlor on Bandcamp

Corpse Flower Records webstore

Corpse Flower Records on Thee Facebooks

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Godstopper & Grizzlor Split 7″ Due Feb. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Given the propensity both these bands have shown for being absolutely off their nut, I’d imagine there’s a good chance their upcoming split is going to be noisy as all hell. The streaming track from Grizzlor — a stomper called “Are You Doing Your Job?” — bears that out, and it’ been a while since I heard anything from Godstopper, but the last time I did I seem to recall it being extraordinarily creepy. Seems like one to look forward to bringing them together, even just for a 7″.

Release date is Feb. 17 on Corpse Flower Records, which has preorders up now. Because it’s damn near February. Where did the last month go? How about the last five years?

From the PR wire:

godstopper grizzlor split

GODSTOPPER And GRIZZLOR: Corpse Flower Records To Issue Limited Edition Split Seven-Inch Next Month; New Track Streaming

Next month, Corpse Flower Records will release part two of a four-part split seven-inch series with GODSTOPPER and GRIZZLOR.

GODSTOPPER is a heavy, sometimes sludgy, sometimes noisy band from Toronto. Forged in 2010, the band’s catalogue features many twists on aggressive music, where supreme heaviness often mixes freely with outright poppy melodies and song structures, alt-rock inspired guitar work, and mood swings varying from the ugly and misanthropic to the pretty and the triumphant. The band’s uniqueness has earned them many accolades from both media and fellow bands, who praise their unusual take on music. Fans of Melvins, Failure, YOB, Torche, and Big Business, pay heed.

Formed in 2014, GRIZZLOR is an American noise rock trio from New Haven, Connecticut, known for their fuzzed out, angular riffs, and abrasive vocals. Early in 2014, the band self-released their debut EP, We’re All Just Aliens, it having been equated to the “chaotic and sloppy nastiness” that is reminiscent of early AmRep bands such as Cows and Halo Of Flies. The record earned critical accolades both Stateside and abroad. Later that year, their second EP and first on seven-inch vinyl, When You Die, was issued. Following another seven-inch and various live shows, the band released its third EP, Cycloptic, which marked a faster, riff heavier writing style, where most songs hover on either side of ninety seconds apiece, released with the Syracuse, New York hardcore/punk label, Hex Records.

On February 17th, Corpse Flower will unleash two brand new tracks from each band limited to 300 copies on yellow vinyl with a digital download. The record comes sheathed in the artwork of Mark Rudolph (Carcass, Coalesce, Battlecross) and is currently available for preorder at THIS LOCATION.

GODSTOPPER’s tracks were captured by Collin Young at B Town Sound in Burlington, Ontario and mastered by Greg Dawson at BWC Studios in Bramton, Ontario while GRIZZLOR’s were recorded and mixed by Victor Dowgiallo at Hermit Cave Studios, Connecticut and mastered by Stu McKillop at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, Britich Columbia.

GODSTOPPER/GRIZZLOR Track Listing:

GODSTOPPER:
1. Down Here For Long
2. Cellophane
GRIZZLOR
1. Are You Doing Your Job?
2. Jack And Diane

GODSTOPPER:
Mike Simpson – guitar, vocals
Derek Del Vecchio – guitar
Miranda Armstrong – bass
Adam McGillivray – drums

GRIZZLOR:
Victor Dowgiallo – guitar/vocals
Beef McMeat – bass
John Mohr – drums

http://www.corpseflowerrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/corpseflowerrecords
http://www.corpseflowerrecords.storenvy.com
http://www.facebook.com/godstopperband
http://www.facebook.com/pg/grizzlordestroys
http://www.grizzlordestroys.com

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Curse the Son Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Ripple Music has picked up Curse the Son. It’s a match made in fuzz.

Last time we heard from Connecticut’s primo rollers of riff was in October, when the Hamden-based three-piece were announcing that their third album, Isolator (review here), would be out on vinyl through The Company Records sometime early in 2017. Well, if you’d like to put a tighter figure on that, I’d guess it’s going to be sometime around April, since that seems to be when Ripple will do their CD edition of the record and start selling it digitally as well. It remains available in the interim from Curse the Son‘s Bandcamp, and is linked and streaming below, though I’m not sure for how long. Sometimes these things get pulled ahead of a re-release like this.

Of course, Isolator had an initial CD pressing in 2016, through Snake Charmer Coalition, also home to Merchant, King Bison and Shadow Witch. But, as it sold through the pressing and that label seems to be defunct at least for the time being — never say never to a comeback — the snag on Ripple‘s part couldn’t be more fortuitous as they continue to move into the forefront of US underground heavy rock purveyors. One gets the feeling Curse the Son are going to be part of a big year for them, though that’s not really much of a prediction considering the strength of the material they released in 2016.

Nonetheless, good for the band, good for the label, and good for anyone who missed out on Isolator‘s original release and will get the chance to hear it now. Especially good for them.

Announcement and info follow:

curse the son ripple music

We said there were some exciting signings to announce. Please welcome Curse the Son to Ripple with. CD/digital release for their monumental epic of doom, “Isolator”. Coming to you this April. More to come.

Emerging from the untimely demise of stoner rockers Sufferghost, Curse the Son is a plodding distorted sonic wall of Sabbathian riffage.

A power trio in the truest sense…..screaming amps…tons of fuzz…fat bass..thick riffin…lots of smokin!

Get high, tune low & play slow.

Isolator Tracklisting:
1. Isolator
2. Callous Unemotional Traits
3. Sleepwalker Wakes
4. Hull Crush Depth
5. Gaslighter
6. Aislamiento
7. Side Effects May Include…

Curse the Son is:
Ron Vanacore – Guitars and Vocals
Michael Petrucci – Drums
Brendan Keefe – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/cursetheson/
https://cursetheson.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Curse the Son, Isolator (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Bus, Them Bulls, Stinkeye, Buzzard Canyon, Motherbrain, Elder Druid, The Crazy Left Experience, The Watchers, Of the Horizon, Raj

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Today is the day the Quarterly Review passes the halfway point. This will be 21-30 of the total 60 for the six days, so there’s still a ways to go — you might say 50 percent — but it’s a milestone nonetheless. Once again it’s another roundup of cool stuff, kind of all over the place a little more than the last two days were, but as we go further along with these things, it’s good to mix it up after a while. There’s only so many times you can throw the word “lysergic” around and talk about jamming. That said, you’re getting some of that today as well from Portugal, so when it pops up, don’t be surprised. Much to do, so no need to delay.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Bus, The Unknown Secretary

bus-the-unknown-secretary

Athenian double-guitar four-piece Bus execute a stylistically cohesive, crisp debut with The Unknown Secretary (on Twin Earth Records), presenting classic heavy rock elements without going full-retro in their sound itself and marking songs like “Masteroid” as immediately distinct through the harmonized vocals of guitarist Bill City, joined in the band by guitarist Johnnie Chez, bassist Chob D’oh and drummer Aris. Together they run through a clean two sides that play back and forth between proto-metallic and doom shading – “Don’t Fear Your Demon” touches on slower Pentagram – while sounding perhaps most comfortable in rockers like “Withered Thorn” or the earlier stomper “New Black Volume,” which puts its two guitars to excellent use ahead of and between unabashedly poppy (not sure a full Ghost comparison is warranted) verse, and craft a highlight in the 7:38 arena-ready thrust of “Rockerbus” prior to the surprisingly nodding finale of “Jimi.” A strikingly efficient and clear-headed first full-length that would seem to hold much promise of things to come from yet another player in Greece’s emergent heavy scene.

Bus on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Them Bulls, Them Bulls

them-bulls-them-bulls.jpg

With the start-stop riff of opener “As Fangs in Stone,” a mastering job by Mathias Schneeberger and the breadth of pop melodicism in cuts that one, the swinging “Made of Ghosts,” and the more percussive “Through the Sun,” Italian four-piece Them Bulls make a pretty strong beeline for early-Queens of the Stone Age-style heavy desert rock. Their self-titled Small Stone debut isn’t without individualized flourish, but the 10-track/41-minute offering makes it clear from the start what its intentions are and then sets about living up to them, whether on the careening Songs for the Deaf-ery of “Pot Gun” or the penultimate “We Must Live Up” itself. Vocal interplay from guitarists Daniele Pollio and Franscesco Pasi – joined by the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Baldini and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi – provides an opportunity for future growth, but it’s worth noting that for a band to take on such a specific stylization, their songwriting needs to be in check, and Them Bulls’ is.

Them Bulls on Thee Facebooks

Them Bulls at Small Stone Records

 

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos

stinkeye-llantera-demos

What seems to be Stinkeye’s debut recording, Llantera Demos, arrives as a free download of four tracks and 16 minutes rife with thickened boogie and dense mecha-stoner fuzz, reminding of Dead Meadow immediately in the echoing vocals and rhythmic bounce of “Orange Man” but moving into some shuffle on the subsequent “Fink Ployd” and “Llantera,” the latter a well-earned showcase of bass tone. While out on the coast, ‘70s vibes reign supreme, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are on a different tip, looser in their swing and apparently more prone to drift. For what it’s worth, they call it “hash rock,” and fair enough as “Pink Clam,” which closes Llantera Demos, rides more of a grunge-laden nod to an immersive but still relatively quick five-minute finish, building after three minutes in to a satisfying final instrumental push. Loaded with potential in tone, execution, vibe and dynamic between the three-piece, Llantera Demos immediately marks Stinkeye out as a band to watch and is just begging for the right person to come along and press it to tape.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

 

Buzzard Canyon, Hellfire and Whiskey

buzzard-canyon-hellfire-and-whiskey.jpg

Want to grab attention with your debut long-player? Calling a song “Louder than God” might be a good way to go. That track, at seven minutes, is the longest on Connecticut five-piece Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire and Whiskey (on Salt of the Earth), and following a quiet initial stretch, it launches into Down-style Southern chug, the dual vocals of Amber Leigh and guitarist Aaron Lewis (the latter also of When the Deadbolt Breaks) veering into and out of more metallic impulses to build on the initial momentum established on the earlier “Highway Run” and “SomaBitch.” The two-minute “For the End” basks in some nightmarish vision of rockabilly, while “Red Beards Massacre” and “Wyoming” dig into more straightforward stylistic patterning, but if Buzzard Canyon want to get a little weird either here or going forward, that’s clearly not about to hurt them. Closer “Not My Cross” hints at some darker visions to come in how it moves into and out of a droning interlude, adding yet more intrigue to their deceptively multifaceted foundation.

Buzzard Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Motherbrain, Voodoo Nasty

motherbrain voodoo nasty

Though “Atomic Rodeo” dips into some Queens of the Stone Age-style groove, Motherbrain’s third album, Voodoo Nasty (on Setalight Records), comes across as more defined by its nasty than its voodoo as the Berlin four-piece demonstrate a penchant for incorporating harsher sludge tendencies, especially in vocal shouts peppered in amid the otherwise not-unfriendly proceedings. That gives the nine-song/48-minute offering a meaner edge but does little ultimately to take away from the groove on offer in the opening title-track or “Ghoul of Kolkata,” and though it retains its raw spirit, Voodoo Nasty digs into some more complex fare later in longer cuts like “Baptism of Fire” and “Half Past Human,” having found a place in centerpiece “Dismantling God” where blown-out noise aggression and semi-psychedelic swirl can coexist, if not peacefully then at least for a while until Motherbrain decide it’s time to give Kyuss-style desert rock another kick in its ass, as on “Sons of Kong,” which, yes, does proclaim a lineage.

Motherbrain on Thee Facebooks

Setalight Records website

 

Elder Druid, Magicka

elder druid magicka

Sludge-rolling five-piece Elder Druid riff forth with their debut studio offering, the five-song/33-minute Magicka EP, which one might be tempted to tag as a demo were it not for a few prior live-tracked short releases that appear to have served that purpose, the latest of which, The Attic Sessions (discussed here), came out in Jan. 2016. The experience of putting that together as well as their prior singles clearly benefited the Northern Irish outfit on Magicka, and while they retain a shouty spirit on opener “Rogue Mystic,” middle cut “The Warlock” offers nod that reminds of The Kings of Frog Island’s “Welcome to the Void,” and that’s about all I ever need. Ever. Served up with bloated tones and geared toward establishing a blend of gruff vocals and consuming fuzz, Elder Druid’s first studio recording has a solid footing in what it wants to accomplish sound-wise and plainly showcases that, and while they have some growing to do and patience to learn in their songcraft, nothing I hear on Magicka argues against their getting there in time.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

The Crazy Left Experience, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey

the-crazy-left-experience-bills-108th-space-odyssey

The Crazy Left Experience – the moniker seeming to refer to the side of the brain at work in their processes – present Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey almost as an album within an album. The framework from the at-least-party-improvised Portuguese cosmic jammers on the seven-track/56-minute outing centers around William Millarc, who in 1955 was documented while taking part in LSD experiments. Samples of Millarc are peppered into opener “Subject Bill,” the later “Funky Meteor Drop” and the closing duo “Bill Sided Flashback” and “God of the Outer Rings,” but between the opener and the latter trio of cuts comes “Unarius,” a three-part excursion listed as “Part V” through “Part VII” that presumably is the representation of when our friend Bill has left his body behind. So be it. One can hardly call that departure incongruous either sonically or in terms of The Crazy Left Experience’s chosen theme – though there are some unrelated samples spliced into “Unarius – Part VII (Space Brothers)” that are somewhat jarring – and the entire flow of the record is so hypnotic that the band can basically go wherever they want, which of course they do.

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Sabbath Highway

the watchers sabbath highway

Were it not for the context of knowing that vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread hail from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic from Black Gates, the Sabbath Highway debut EP (on Ripple Music) from California’s The Watchers would be almost impossibly coherent for a first outing. Classic in form but modern in its presentation, the five-tracker – four plus the church-organ interlude “Requiem” between the opening title-cut (video here) and “Call the Priest” – makes the most of Narducci’s ‘70s-style vocal push, reminding of one-time Ripple troupe Stone Axe in his oldschool feel, but as “Today” (premiered here) makes plain, The Watchers are much more focused on learning from the past than repeating it. The straightforward songwriting and all-we’re-here-to-do-is-kick-ass sentiment behind Sabbath Highway might well prove formative compared to what The Watchers do next – presumably that’s a full-length, but one never knows; they sound ready to get down to business  – but it makes its ambitions plain in its hooks and swiftly delivers on its promises.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Of the Horizon, Of the Horizon

of the horizon self-titled

I can’t speak to the present status of California’s Of the Horizon, since last I heard bassist Kayt Vigil was in Italy working with Sonic Wolves, but their self-titled five-track debut full-length arrives via Kozmik Artifactz no less switched on for the half-decade that has passed since it was recorded. Guitarist Mike Hanne howls out throaty incantations to suit the post-Sleep riffing of opener “3 Feet” and drummer Shig pushes the roll of “Caravan” forward into its final crashing slowdown effectively as Vigil ensures the subsequent centerpiece “Unknown” is duly thick beneath its spacious, jammy strum. The two longest slabs hit at the end in “Gladhander” (8:55) and the righteously lumbering “Hall of the Drunken King” (10:31) and feel somewhat like an album unto themselves, but when/if Of the Horizon make a return, they’ve established a working modus on this first full-length that should well satisfy the nod-converted and that demonstrates the timelessness of well-executed tonal onslaught.

Of the Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Of the Horizon at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Raj, Raj

raj self titled

Though it’s fair enough in terms of runtime, it almost seems like Milano sludge-rollers Raj (also written stylized in all-caps: RAJ) do the six tracks of their 20-minute self-titled debut EP a disservice by cramming them onto a single LP side. Not that one gets lost or the band fails to make an impression – far from it – but just that sounds so geared toward largesse and spaciousness beg for more room to flesh out. That, perhaps, is the interesting duality in Raj’s Raj, since even the massive plod of closer “Iron Matrix” lumbers through its course in a relatively short 4:45, never mind the speedier “Magic Wand” (2:47) or drone interlude “Black Mumbai” (1:51) – gone in a flash. The release moves through these, the earlier “Omegagame” and “Eurasia” and the penultimate “Kaluza” with marked fluidity and efficiency, giving Raj a mini-album feel, and with the atmosphere in “Black Mumbai” and in the surrounding material, their rumble sets up a dynamic that seems primed for further exploration.

Raj on Thee Facebooks

Raj on Bandcamp

 

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