Last time Copenhagen doom rockers Demon Head posted a video, back at the end of January, there was apparently some measure of confusion on my part as to the release date of their impending second album, Thunder on the Fields. Actually, scratch that “apparently some measure” part. I was confused. The full-length, originally slated for an April 7 release through The Sign Records and Caligari Records when it was first announced in December, appeared to have been bumped up to Feb. 24.
As Demon Head unveil a second video from the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), it seems that we’ve gone back to April 7. Fair enough, since at very least that means I’m not already behind in not having reviewed it yet — or, for that matter, heard it in its entirety — but it does mean we’re still more than a month away from the actual release date. Was it ever Feb. 24? Was it a dream? Was it for one format and not another? Was the plan scrapped altogether? Where did I get Feb. 24 from to start with? These questions may never be answered — mostly because I don’t have the time to go find out. Mark your calendar for April 7 and leave it at that, folks. Some mysteries just have to be accepted.
Oh wait, the PR wire info said it.
I guess we solved that one after all.
Way to go, I guess.
As you check out Demon Head‘s new clip for “Hic Svnt Dracones” below, please find included a healthy slew of live dates for the band, including two release shows in Sweden in Denmark and noted tour intentions still TBA for the UK, Finland and the wider European sphere that ensure the band will be plenty busy leading up to and through the summer. They’ve also got a couple festival shows and I would be surprised if they didn’t end up with a few more before the year is out, so stay tuned.
And yeah, I’m hoping to review the album at some point. Will it be before April 7? Another mystery for the ages. Or at least the next couple weeks.
Demon Head, “Hic Svnt Dracones” official video
HIC SVNT DRACONES is the second single from Demon Head’s album ‘Thunder On The Fields’ released by The Sign Records 7th of April 2017.
HIC SVNT DRACONES is a heavy anthem with a burning drive. The song is about throwing off the shackles that wear us down, daring to go were the maps have white spots. Follow the sinister leads and groove to a place between borderland and underworld…
Live Dates: 4/3 Copenhagen, DK. Ungdomshuset 10 years 31/3 Gothenburg, SWE 1/4 Linköping, SWE – The Sign Fest 7/4 Malmö, SWE – Release show 8/4 Copenhagen, DK – Release show 13/4 – 17/4 England Tour – Tour Dates TBA 28/4 Copenhagen – Nothern discomfort festival 11/5 – 14/5 Finland Tour – Tour Dates TBA 26/5 Aarhus, TBA – Denmark 27/5 Aalborg, 1000fryd – Denmark 16/8 – 22/8 European Tour – Tour Dates TBA
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Danish heavy psych composers The Sonic Dawn have set an April 21 release date for their second full-length, Into the Long Night and revealed the cover art for the album. You can see below it’s tripped-out in classic form, and not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but the album works in like-minded fashion, though one thing striking is the depth of arrangement The Sonic Dawn bring to their fluid jams, whether it’s keyboard or flourish of sitar sounds, percussion or whatever else. There’s little that seems to be out of their reach, but they maintain a core natural dynamic underneath, giving the whole affair a blended feel of organic performance and conceptual intent to go with a subtly clean production. Or so I might think, if I’d heard it.
Anyone who heard the 2015 Nasoni-issued debut, Perception (review here), already knows to look forward to this one, and rightly so.
Heavy Psych Sounds Records is proud to present: ***THE SONIC DAWN*** the new album: “Into The Long Night”
Into the Long Night is the second album by The Sonic Dawn, one of the most remarkable bands to come out of the new psychedelic wave in Denmark. Just a few seconds into this album, you will realize that you are in for a mind altering experience.
“It’s a trip! By taking the listeners to places they didn’t expect to go, we hope to make them aware – that they’ll stop up and think about life for a minute. Awareness is the first step to change in the world,” says Emil Bureau (guitar/vocals).
To achieve the dramatic changes of mood and feeling that The Sonic Dawn excel at, they mix a wide range of styles, from jazzy sitar pop to heavy acid rock. A pleasant-sounding analog production makes the album easy to approach, not to water it down, but rather to pull the unsuspecting listener into the deep.
The songs were written by day and recorded at night, during a month of complete isolation in a remote house by The North Sea. The tracklist can be interpreted as a trip through the night, into a new dawn. Close your eyes and see it:
Go through the hill country with its long yellow grass, to the beach where the setting sun dances on the cold waves. Slide into the darkest hours, alone with your thoughts and doubts. Suddenly come the first blue rays, separating past from present, before a golden dawn is born and everything takes its right shape, perhaps for the very first time.
Into the Long Night was made in collaboration with some of Scandinavia’s most regarded personnel. It features Swedish Hammond legend Erik ‘Errka’ Petersson on keys and Morten Grønvad on vibraphone/perc., which adds to its soundtrack-like qualities. Mixed in The Village Recording with jazz producer Thomas Vang (Oscar Peterson, Randy Brecker etc.). Mastered in Svenska Grammofonstudion with Hans Olsson Brookes (Graveyard, Blues Pills, José González etc.).
Fans of psychedelic rock, neo-psych, freak beat and classic rock will surely enjoy this record.
Nine tracks, 36 minutes and 22 seconds. Released by Heavy Psych Sounds (Italy) on April 21st, 2017.
The Sonic Dawn European concert dates: 15/04/2017 DK Christiania, Operaen (release party). 21/04/2017 DK Svendborg, Maskinen. 18/05/2017 DE Hamburg, MS Stubnitz. 19/05/2017 DE Berlin, Bassy Club. 23/05/2017 DE Dresden, Ostpol. 24/05/2017 DE Nierstein, E-Werk. 25/05/2017 DE Karlsruhe, PsyKa Underground Experience. 26/05/2017 DE Essen, Soulhell Café. 27/05/2017 DE Hofheim/Taunus, Jazzkeller. 31/05/2017 DE Miltenberg, Beavers. 01/06/2017 DE Mannheim, Kurzbar. 03/06/2017 BE Mechelen, Kafee Zapoi. 04/06/2017 BE Assenede, Flanders Chopper Bash. 06/06/2017 DE Mainz, Schon Schön. 19/08/2017 DE Waffenrod, Woodstock Forever Festival. 15-17/09/2017 UK Bedford, The Trip Out. 22-24/09/2017 UK Liverpool, Liverpool Psych Fest.
The Sonic Dawn is: Emil Bureau (guitar, lead vocals) Jonas Waaben (drums) Neil Bird (bass guitar)
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
If you’d like to make yourself sad this morning, afternoon, whatever, go ahead and take a listen to the streaming live Causa Sui track at the bottom of this post and realize that the limited-to-300-copies-3LP-plus-bonus-10″ version of Live in Copenhagen has already sold through its pressing on preorders. The regular 3LP box is still available, as is the CD for those of us who retain an affection for the format, and honestly, I don’t think there’s much more you really need to know about it other than it’s Causa Sui caught live at the release shows for their last two albums, they cover John Coltraine, and Niklas from Papir sits in on one of the sets. No wonder that shit’s already sold out. I’d buy it twice just to make the point, and I may yet.
Those who heard it will recall that the Danish band’s last live outing, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here), was little short of manna from heavy psych heaven, so it goes without saying that if you haven’t yet gotten your order in for Live in Copenhagen, you probably want to get on it.
And seriously, take a listen to “Eternal Flow” down at the bottom of the post. Might make you sad. Will also make your day.
Causa Sui – Live in Copenhagen – El Paraiso Records
This limited boxset captures Causa Sui at two very special nights: At the release parties of Euporie Tide (2013) & Return To Sky (2016). While the two albums are tight and meticulous sizes, that helped propel the band to the very pinnacle of European stoner-psych, this heavy package documents the band at their most free and adventurous. Since the band seldomly performes live, this may very well be your best chance to experience what the band is capable of at their best! One show is recorded at avantgarde institution extraordinaire Jazzhouse, while the other captures the sounds of legendary underground venue Dragens Hule in a warm summer night of 2013, where the band played in front of a small, ecstatic crowd until the wee hours. Both shows were recorded multitrack with an A-grade selection of mics and mixed and mastered by Jonas Munk.
During these three discs Causa Sui aren’t merely running through classic cuts from the catalogue. Each track is explored, reinterpreted and given new life – often straying far away from its original roots with a fervent energy. One minute the band is bluesy and heavy, the next they’re repetitive and blissed-out or venturing into a cacophony of Albert Ayler-like sax bursts, free-form electronics and feedback. Swedish saxophone player Johan Riedenlow joins both shows and Papir-guitar player Nicklas Sørensen occasionally adds his magic to the Dragens Hule set – including a towering 13-minute version of Eternal Flow, that seems to channel the energy of mid-1970s Popol Vuh, as well as a breezy cover version of Agitation Free’s ”First Communication”.
”Ju-Ju Blues” from the Jazzhouse set is Causa Sui at their most fuzzed out and Hendrixian, reaching new improvisational heights, whereas ”Dawn Passage” feels like an obvious fusion of Tame Impala and Allman Brothers. On the Dragens Hule sets the band goes all the way out! ”Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn” turns Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis into a crazed sludge-fest, and fan-favourites ”El Paraiso” and “Red Valley” appear here in their ultimate versions. To cap things off the band delivers a 17-minute exclusive tribute to John Coltrane’s ”A Love Supreme” featuring both Johan Riedenlow and Nicklas Sørensen.
The vinyl version of Live In Copenhagen comes as three LPs in heavy duty sleeves packed in a deluxe slipcase box. Limited to 1000 copies.
140 minutes worth of music – recorded at the release parties of Euporie Tide & Return To Sky.
Jazzhouse 01 Rip Tide 6:38 02 The Source 4:42 03 The Juice 8:53 04 Mondo Buzzo 8:35 05 Dawn Passage 9:48 * 06 Eugenie 8:00 07 Ju-Ju Blues 10:45
Dragens Hule pt. 1 01 Eternal Flow 13:01 02 El Paraiso 12:20 03 Mireille 7:39 04 Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn 15:22
Dragens Hule pt. 2 01 First Communication 6:30 (Agitation Free) 02 Homage 9:28 03 Red Valley 10:13 04 Euporie 11:58 * 05 A Love Supreme 16:47 (John Coltrane)
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Danish singer-songwriter Christian Hede Madsen made his debut under the Bellhound Choir moniker with the 2015 EP Stray Screech Beast (review here), which marked a radical departure from his band at the time, Pet the Preacher. Where the band had a hard-driving heavy rock foundation, Bellhound Choir turned toward darker country and folk vibes, blues and so on.
He signed to respected purveyor Bad Afro Records for the ensuing first full-length, Imagine the Crackle, which you can stream below, and in April will release his quick-turnaround second outing, Worried Kid, having also formed his own label in the new Salbar Records. Oh yeah, and dude has a novel out. Some people just like to stay busy. I can respect that.
From the PR wire:
BELLHOUND CHOIR TO RELEASE BRAND NEW ALBUM!’WORRIED KID’ COMING APRIL 28th!
On April 28th 2017, singer, songwriter and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen aka BELLHOUND CHOIR will release his second solo album ‘Worried Kid’ – a contemporary blues album dealing with the struggles and winding roads of the soul – and now he announces a special release event at this year’s SPOT FESTIVAL in Denmark.
Bellhound Choir is the sound of where it all began as well as the sound of now. Bellhound Choir is contemporary blues, a kind of folk music that with an eternal voice exposes the trouble of the soul as well as its hopes. Bellhound Choir is songwriter, singer and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen. Madsen is primarily known for his music, partly from his former band Pet The Preacher and now with the solo project Bellhound Choir, which released the debut album “Imagine The Crackle” through Bad Afro Records last year.
Apart from being a musician, Madsen is a man of many other talents – an artist ever interested in finding new ways of expression. He experiments with film, interactive media and not least litterature, which occupies an essential part of his music and beyond. Madsen just recently released the debut novel ‘Mørkeræd’ (‘Fear of the Dark’), which is yet another take on his description of the existential conditions of mankind.
These conditions are equally described on Bellhound Choir´s second album ‘Worried Kid’ – eight songs about being shrouded in darkness, with the shadows chasing you, on the way to something better. An album that revolves around the eternal struggle of being alive and preserving hope. ‘Worried Kid’ is produced by Sebastian Wolff, front man in Kellermensch, who besides producing also contributes with vocals for a duo with Madsen on the album. ‘Worried Kid’ will be released through Madsen´s own label Salbar on April 28th 2017, and the album will be accompanied by a string of cinematic, fictional live-sessions presented on an interactive online platform ahead of the release.
It is ‘Worried Kid’, its stories, the interplay between different media and off course Madsen´s intimate, stripped down performance, which is the heart of the acoustic performance that Bellhound Choir will deliver on the primary Danish showcase event SPOT FESTIVAL in Aarhus, Denmark on May 5th.
More info on the album and additional dates will follow in the time to come.
Last time I heard, April 7 was the appointed release date of the second full-length by Copenhagen cultish doom rockers Demon Head, but The Sign Records seems to have bumped Thunder on the Fields up to Feb. 24. Here I was thinking the band had decided to be generous and give an extra-early preview of the album ahead of its arrival, but the timing actually works out about right. I’ll take it either way, frankly.
The first audio to be made public from Thunder on the Fields, “Gallow’s Omen” hits as a new video suitably rife with creeper imagery and footage that looks both originally captured and culled from the vast public domain, varied in level of grit and origin as it seems to be. It all comes together around the swinging, rolling groove of “Gallow’s Omen,” the track itself, which basks in the ways of classic doom without getting lost in retro redundancies. Demon Head‘s first record, 2015’s Ride the Wilderness (review here), was a sonic blowout of similar cohesion, but I’m looking forward to hearing how Thunder on the Fields builds on what they accomplished their last go. One doesn’t want to speculate not having heard the full release, but I think they’re giving a few hints here.
And the good news — you know, apart from the video, the preorders, etc. — seems to be that we’ll get to find out more about Thunder on the Fields sooner than anticipated. Mark that a win for sure. Just by way of a warning, this one might be NSFW depending on how stuffy your situation is, so use your best judgment.
Demon Head, “Gallow’s Omen” official video
We now have the pleasure of giving you Gallow’s Omen, the first song and video from our coming album Thunder on the Fields. Listen, watch and pre-order the album below:
‘Gallow’s Omen’ is the first single from Demon Head’s second album ‘Thunder On The Fields’ that will be relesed 24th of February on the Sign Records. The song concern situations when fear becomes generalized. Suspicion grows and society searches for enemies within, in an attempt to keep power or rid itself of a certain kind of people: witches, terrorists, heretics, illegals….
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Cheers to Copenhagen trio The Sonic Dawn on signing to Heavy Psych Sounds for the release of their upcoming second album, Into the Long Night. Due in April, the new full-length follows behind Perception (review here), which Nasoni Records issued on Halloween 2015, and which reveled in classic pop-tinged psychedelia, creating a fluid but still coherent impression across its graceful span, whether surfing through “The Mustang” or basking in the sun-soaked drift of “Watching Dust Fall.”
I haven’t the faintest idea what their second record might hold in terms of direction or movement from the first one, but Heavy Psych Sounds posted word to keep an eye out for a somewhat darker approach, and that’s enough to further pique my interest.
Word from the label follows:
THE SONIC DAWN – HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is proud to announce the signing of a new incredible band!
The Sonic Dawn is a trip – a psychedelic mixture of styles, from jazzy sitar pop to heavy acid rock. Expect melodic songs with a 60s flavor, laced with dreamy vocals and delivered with an explosive stage presence.
Since their acclaimed album debut in 2015, The Sonic Dawn has been on several European tours. A highlight of 2016 was opening the notorious Freak Valley Festival, sharing the stage with Graveyard and White Hills. This year they can be experienced all over Europe again, confirmed for some of the best venues and festivals.
The new “Into the Long Night” is the trio’s most ambitious album yet. Written by day and recorded at night during a month of complete isolation by The North Sea, it is as light and gracious as it is dark and mysterious. The journey has just begun.
The band just signed with HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS and ready to release the new album in April 2017.
Cover art and album details will be unveil soon, so stay tuned for more infos!
The Sonic Dawn is: Emil Bureau (guitar, lead vocals) Jonas Waaben (drums) Neil Bird (bass guitar)
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Copenhagen boogie rockers Doublestone have signed to Ripple Music and will release their second album, Devil’s Own / Djævlens Egn on May 12. Late in 2013, the three-piece issued their debut full-length, Wingmakers (review here), to much fairly-earned hullabaloo, and the follow-up outing finds them once more under the tutelage of producer Tony Reed of Mos Generator, also known for his board-work for the likes of Saint Vitus, Seedy Jeezus, and of course his own sundry projects. A lot’s changed in Euro heavy over the last four years, so I wonder how that might manifest in their style, but the first record was loaded with potential either way and it’s cool to see the next step bring them to a new level in working with Ripple, whose reach continues to expand internationally and creatively.
The PR wire takes it from here:
Doublestone Signs World-wide Deal with Ripple Music; New Tony Reed-Produced Album Out in May
Ripple Music is thrilled to announce the signing of Danish retro-heavy rockers, Doublestone to their stellar roster of international bands. Formed in 2011 Copenhagen, Denmark, by long time friends, Jamie and Bo as a duo. Doublestone, later that year became a power-trio as (the cousin) Kristian joined the band. The stoner-rock trio released a few EP’s, and in 2013, joined forces with Mos Generator’s Tony Reed to record their first full length “Wingmakers.”
The debut album was recorded in an old cheese factory’s basement under the city of Copenhagen and catapulted the trio into the international stoner-rock scene, with their 70’s inspired, straightforward hardrock.
Now digging even deeper and going even further under ground, the long awaited second album, was created in the World War II bunker which is now Wolf Ram Studio, produced and mixed by Doublestone and Andreas Krohn, and mastered once again by the legendary by Tony Reed.
“Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn” is finally ready for the world to hear and will be released worldwide by Ripple Music.
MEMBERS: Bo Blond Daugaard – Guitar/Vocals Michael James Bruun – Drums Kristian Blond Møller – Bass/Vocals
Over that last 5 years, Ripple Music has distinguished itself as one of the leading puryeors of heavy rock. With a roster that includes such bands as Wo Fat, Mothership, Freedom Hawk, Roadsaw and more, Doublestone’s Bo says he’s “over the clouds excited to be working with such a label, with such amazing bands and such a reputation for bringing quality music to the scene.”
“Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn” will be released on May 12th, on vinyl, limited-edition, multi-colored vinyl, CD and digital world-wide via MVD Distributors, Ripple Music webstore, Ripple Music Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and distributors world-wide.
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Red Fang, Only Ghosts
Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.
After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.
A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.
Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.
Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.
Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.
To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.
Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.
Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.
After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.