Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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Quarterly Review: Earthless, Satan’s Satyrs, Mantar, Child, T.G. Olson, Canyon, Circle of the Sun, Mythic Sunship, Svarta Stugan, Bast

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

There isn’t enough coffee in the universe, but I’ve got mine and I’m ready to burn the living crap out of my tongue if that’s what it takes to get through. We’ve arrived at Day 4 of the Quarterly Review, and though we’re less than halfway to the 100-album goal set by some maniac sitting at his kitchen table with a now-burnt tongue, there’s been an awful lot of good stuff so far. More even than I thought going into it, and I slate this stuff.

That said, today’s list is pretty killer. A lot of these bands will be more familiar than maybe has been the case or will be on some of the other days of this Quarterly Review. It just kind of worked out that way as I was putting it together. But hey, a few bigger bands here, a few “debut EP” demos there. It’s all good fun.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Earthless, From the West

earthless from the west

Bonus points to whatever clever cat correctly decided that Earthless‘ 2018 studio album, Black Heaven (review here), needed a companion live record. With artwork mimicking a Led Zeppelin bootleg of the same name, From the West arrives through Silver Current and Nuclear Blast capturing the most powerful of power trios earlier this year in San Francisco, and it’s like the fire emoji came to life. With Mike Eginton‘s bass as the anchor and Mario Rubalcaba‘s drums as the driving force, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell starts ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime with “Black Heaven” and doesn’t stop until 64 minutes later as “Acid Crusher” dissolves into noise. Of course “Gifted by the Wind” from the latest LP is a highlight, and suitably enough, they cover Zeppelin‘s “Communication Breakdown,” but I’m not sure anything tops the extended take on “Uluru Rock” from 2013’s From the Ages (review here) — and yes, I mean that. Of course they pair it with the 1:48 surge of “Volt Rush,” because they’re Earthless, and brilliant is what they do. Every set they play should be recorded for posterity.

Earthless website

Silver Current Records on Bandcamp

Earthless at Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones

satans satyrs the lucky ones

Encased in cover art that begs the Spinal Tap question, “what’s wrong with being sexy?” and the response that Fran Drescher gave it, Virginia classic heavy rockers Satan’s Satyrs return with their fourth full-length, The Lucky Ones (on RidingEasy and Bad Omen), which also marks their first record as a four-piece with guitarist Nate Towle (Wicked Inquisition) joining the returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess, guitarist Jared Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield, who, between the fact that Burgess founded the band and played in Electric Wizard, and all the lead guitar antics from Nettnin and Towle, might be the unsung hero of the band. His performance is not lost in the recording by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris or Burgess‘ own hefty mix, and as one would expect, Satan’s Satyrs continue to deliver deceptively refined ’70s-heavy vibes caked in cult biker horror aesthetics. Some songs hit more than others, but Satan’s Satyrs‘ dust-kicking approach continues to win converts.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

Mantar, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

mantar the modern art of setting ablaze

One generally thinks of Hamburg duo Mantar as having all the subtlety of a bone saw caught on video, and yet, in listening to “Seek + Forget” from their third album, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (on Nuclear Blast), there are some elements that seem to be reaching out on the part of the band. Guitarist Hanno‘s vocals are more enunciated and discernible, there is a short break from the all-out blackened-sludge-punk assault that’s been their trade since their start in 2012, and “Obey the Obscene” even has an organ. Still, the bulk of the 12-track/48-minute follow-up to 2016’s Ode to the Flame (review here) is given to extremity of purpose and execution, and in pieces like the churning “Anti Eternia” and the particularly-punked “Teeth of the Sea,” they work to refine their always-present threat of violence. Closer “The Funeral” brings back some of the quiet moodiness of intro “The Knowing” and underscores the point of sonic expansion. I hope next time they use a string section.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

Child, I

child i

It took me a few minutes to get to the heart of what my problem with Child‘s I EP is. Really, I was sitting and listening to “Age Has Left Me Behind” — the first of the three included tracks on the 20-ish-minute 12″ — and I had to ask myself, “Why is this annoying me?” The answer? Because it’s not an album. That’s it. It’s not enough. Kudos to the Melbourne, Australia, heavy blues trio on having that be the biggest concern with their latest release — it follows 2016’s righteously-grooved Blueside (review here) — and kudos to them as well for their cover of Spirit‘s “The Other Song,” but of course it’s the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” on side B that’s the immersive highlight of I, as Child‘s balance of softshoe-boogie and expansive mellow-psych is second to none in their subgenre. It’s not an album, and that’s kind of sad, but as a tide-ya-over until the next long-player arrives, I still does the trick nice and easy. And not to get greedy, but I’d take a II (or would it be You?) whenever they get around to it.

Child on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

T.G. Olson, Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain

tg olson wasatch valley lady and the man from table mountain

Across Tundras frontman T.G. Olson, who by now has well lapped that band’s output with his solo catalog, would seem to have sat down with his guitar sometime in the last week and put two songs to tape. The resulting 10-minute offering is Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain, its component title-tracks stripping down some of the more elaborate arrangements he’s explored of late — his latest full-length, Riding Roughshod (review pending; it’s hard to keep up), came out in October — to expose the barebones construction at root in his Rocky Mountain country folk style. “Wasatch Valley Lady” and “The Man from Table Mountain” make an engaging couple, and while Olson has a host of videos on YouTube that are similarly just him and his acoustic, something about the audio-only recordings feel like a voice out of time reaching for human connection. The first seems to have a natural fade, and the second a more prominent rhythm showcased in harder strum, but both are sweet melodies evocative as ever of open landscapes and wistful experience.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, Mk II

canyon mk ii

The Deep Purple-referential Mk II title of Canyon‘s second EP, also the follow-up to their 2017 debut LP, Radiant Light, refers to the lineup change that’s seen Dean Welsh move to drums so that he and guitarist Peter Stanko can welcome bassist/vocalist Fred Frederick to the fold. The three included songs, the hooky “Mine Your Heart,” expansively fuzzed “Morphine Dreams” and bouncing “Roam” make a hell of a first offering from the reconstituted trio, who capture classic heavy naturalism in a chemistry between players that’s mirrored in the songwriting itself. Canyon‘s 2016 self-titled debut EP (review here) held marked promise, and even after the full-length, that promise would seem to be coming to fruition here. Their tones and craft are both right on, and there’s still some gelling to do between the three of them, but they leave no doubt with Mk II that this incarnation of Canyon can get there. And, if they keep up like this, get there quickly.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

Circle of the Sun, Jams of Inner Perception

Circle of the Sun Jams of Inner Perception

One man jams! Psych-jam seekers will recognize Daniel Sax as the drummer for Berlin-based trio Cosmic Fall. Circle of the Sun is a solo-project from Sax and Jams of Inner Perception collects six tracks for 39 minutes of adventuring on his own. Sax sets his own backbeat and layers bass and “effectsbass” for a full-lineup feel amid the instrumental creations, and those looking to be hypnotized by the space-rocking jams will be. Flat out. Sax is no stranger to jamming, and as one soaks in “Jamming in Paradise” or its nine-minute predecessor “Liquid Sand,” there’s little mistaking his intention. Curious timing that Circle of the Sun would take shape following a lineup change in Cosmic Fall — perhaps it was put together in the interim? — but whether Jams of Inner Perception is a one-off of the beginning of a new avenue for Sax, its turn to blues noodling on “Desert Sun,” thick-toned “Moongroove” and fuzzy roll on “Acid Dream” demonstrate there are plenty of outer realms still to explore.

Circle of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Circle of the Sun on Bandcamp

 

Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

Mythic Sunship Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

The simplest way to put it is that Mythic Sunship‘s Another Shape of Psychedelic Music lives up to the lofty ambitions of its title. The Danish band is comprised of guitarists Kasper Stougaard Andersen and Emil Thorenfeldt, bassist Rasmus ‘Cleaver’ Christensen, drummer Frederik Denning and saxophonist Søren Skov, and with Causa Sui‘s Jonas Munk — who also produced the album — sitting in on the extended “Backyard Voodoo” (17:41) and “Out There” (13:53) as well as overseeing the release through El Paraiso, the band indeed makes there way into the far out reaches where jazz and psychedelia meet. It’s not about pretentiously saying they’re doing something that’s never been done. You’ll note it’s “another shape” and not a “new shape” or the “shape to come.” But immersion happens quickly on opener “Resolution” (14:23), and even quicker cuts like “Last Exit,” “Way Ahead” and “Elevation” carry the compelling spirit of forward-thinking creativity through their dynamic course, and if Mythic Sunship aren’t the shape of psychedelic music to come, it’s in no small part because there are so few out there who could hope to match what they do.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

 

Svarta Stugan, Islands / Öar

svarta stugan islands oar

Islands / Öar — the second word being the Swedish translation of the first — is the 40-minute debut full-length from Gothenburg atmospheric heavy post-rock instrumentalists Svarta Stugan, who demonstrate in influence from Hex-era Earth on the opener “Islands III” but go on in subsequent tracks to pull together a sound distinct in its cinematic feel and moody execution. Five out of the seven component tracks are “Islands” pieces, which are presented out of order with “Islands IV” missing and “Islands Unknown” perhaps in its place, and the respective side A/B finales “Inner Space” and “Prospects Quatsi” standing apart. Both bring to bear a style ultimately consistent with the melancholy so rife throughout Islands / Öar as a whole, but they’re obviously intended as outliers, and so they seem to be. The LP release follows a couple shorter outings, issued over the past six-plus years, and it’s clear from the depths and range on display here in the build-to-crescendo of “Inner Space” alone that Svarta Stugan haven’t misspent their time in their progression to this point.

Svarta Stugan on Thee Facebooks

Svarta Stugan on Bandcamp

 

Bast, Nanoångström

bast nanoangstrom

Largesse of scope and largesse of tone work in tandem on Bast‘s Nanoångström full-length on Black Bow, as they bring together aspects of post-metallic churn and more extreme metal methods to hone a style highly individualized, highly weighted and as much cosmic as it is crushing. Through six tracks and 57 minutes, the London trio (plus two guest spots from Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth) careen and crash and set an atmosphere of chaos without actually being chaotic, their progressive craft working to tie the songs together into a larger impression of the work as a consuming entirety. It’s the kind of record you pick up and still hear new things in by the time they put out their next one. Production from Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio only helps creates the heights and depths of their dynamic, and whether they’re rolling out the severity of closer “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars” or laying out the soundscape of “The Beckoning Void,” Bast shape the tenets of genre to suit their needs rather than try to work within the barriers of any particular style. Nanoångström is all the more complex and satisfying for their efforts in that regard.

Bast on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

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Red Lama Post “State of the Art” Video; Dogma EP out Dec. 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red lama

Quick turnaround from Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, who issued their second album, Motions, earlier this year. Their new EP, recorded in an apparent burst of creativity, is titled Dogma, and the drift-prone seven-piece are giving a glimpse at some of the float its four tracks might hone in a new video for “State of the Art” recorded live at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Nice digs. They seem to have recorded the EP live as well, so whether or not the video is from the same session that resulted in the studio version of the song, I don’t know, but what matters more than that is of course the live feel of the music itself, which comes through as no less a priority than the gorgeous melodicism that always seems to typify Red Lama‘s work, pastoral and serene as they are.

The video is at the bottom of this post and the EP cover and info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

red lama dogma

RED LAMA – ’DOGMA’ – NEW EP OUT DECEMBER 7th

Red Lama will release a new EP called ’Dogma’ on December 7th which has been written and recorded during a single month in the fall of 2018. The first track to be released is ’State the Art’. Accompanying the track is a video that shows the band recording the track in a session at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. ’Dogma’ is the band’s second release in 2018 and it follows the acclaimed album ’Motions’.

’Dogma’ is the result of an intensive writing and recording period which stretched over a single month in the fall of 2018. The release is conceptual in the sense that its basic dogma is immediacy. The music and its creation shall remain immediate and thereby avoid being too planned out and overly produced. Vocalist, Johannes Linnet, says about the process:

”I look back at the time we spent making ’Dogma’ as a very free and pleasant journey for the band as a whole. Working with immediacy and being able to let go of natural satisfaction has given the writing process much more depth and concentration than earlier. Small ideas became raw pieces over a weekend in late September and was then polished and recorded as live sessions in the Royal Danish Academy of Music’s Studio 3 in order to preserve the energy that we bring to live shows.”

The EP has been made in cooperation with the British producer Graham Sowerby (AK/DK). Red Lama has worked with Tommy Kamp Vestergaard (60 minutes of Mew) in mixing ’Dogma’, and the award-winning producer, Rune Rask, has mastered it. The four
songs that make up ’Dogma’ unite the beautiful and grandiose with the raw and powerful – and at the same time show that Red Lama once again explores new musical territories.

The first single ’State the Art’ and its video which is shot and produced by Jonas Møller (Playground Productions) will be out prior to the release of ’Dogma’. It shows the band during the recording of the track as a one-take in Studio 3 at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Tracklist – ’Dogma’
1. Time
2. State the Art
3. RLP
4. Tearing up the Snow

Red Lama live 2018
17th of November HeadQuarters Aarhus (DK)
24th of November Kulturmaskinen Odense (DK)

Red Lama:
Johannes Linnet: Vocal
Oliver Fick: Guitar
Jonas Rahbek: Guitar
Frederik Randrup: Bass
Morten Kaas: Organ
Niklas Sjøbeck: Percussion
Marius Linnet: Drums

www.facebook.com/redlamadk
www.instagram.com/red_lama_band
www.soundcloud.com/red-lama
www.redlamaband.bandcamp.com

Red Lama, “State of the Art” official video

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Demon Head Sign to Svart Records; Hellfire Ocean Void out Feb. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demon head

Danish doom rockers Demon Head have signed to Svart Records and will release their third long-player, Hellfire Ocean Void, through the venerable imprint on Feb. 22. The new album follows behind 2017’s Thunder on the Fields (review here), which found the five-piece pressing further into their traditionalist roots while crafting the boogie into a shape of their own. Since their outset, they’ve had aesthetic, songwriting and performance working steadily in their favor, plus they’ve toured, so an alliance with a label like Svart seems a natural next step in their forward progression. Kudos to the band and another killer pickup for the label. It’s good news all the way around.

And not the least because it means 2019 will bring a new one from Demon Head. There’s no audio from Hellfire Ocean Void out yet, but the band issued the two-songer single The Resistance (review here) earlier this year if you find yourself looking for a fix.

The PR wire brings word:

demon head hellfire ocean void

DEMON HEAD set release date for new SVART album – reveal cover, tracklisting

Svart Records sets February 22nd, 2019 as the international release date for Demon Head’s highly anticipated third album, Hellfire Ocean Void, on CD and vinyl LP formats.

Hellfire Ocean Void is composed by eight songs that unfold themselves effortlessly perfect in the tension between a delicate sense of composition and the uncompromising urgency with which the five musicians deliver the performance of each song. Mournful melodies of unearthly dimensions are played on piano and orchestrated with the use of classic rock instrumentation – electric guitars, bass, and drums. Dark and mystical chord progressions, sporadic guitar solos, chaotic arpeggio synthesizers, and the prophetic words of M.F.L are held together by the solid drum beats of J.W. Ambient recordings of acoustic instruments are accompanied by tape manipulation, which slowly develops into a haunting soundspace, showing B.G.N’s skills as an avant-garde composer. Guitar leads morph into the breathtaking improvisations of T.G.N as the band’s energetic center of bassist M.F leaves nothing to be questioned.

The writing, recording, mixing, and production was all done during the winter 2017-2018 by Demon Head in their own analog studio. Isolating themselves in the frozen countryside by the coast of Denmark and having no studio time limitations made it possible to encounter the recording studio as a sixth member, enabling them to produce the album with sincere curiosity and perfection. The only other person involved was the legendary producer Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Morbid Angel, Mercyful fate, etc.) who mastered the album in Sweet Silence Studios.

With Hellfire Ocean Void, Demon Head have created a masterpiece in contemporary rock music. As any other truly original music, it is difficult to draw any similarities, since the music seems to hint at nothing but its own integrity: an integrity that is based upon the insight that Demon Head gains from loving and accepting the many clichés and traditions that follow from playing rock music – and from that foundation moves far into the unknown, into the darkness and into our hearts.

First track and preorder info to be revealed shortly.

Tracklisting for Demon Head’s Hellfire Ocean Void
1. Rumours
2. The Night Is Yours
3. A Flaming Sea
4. In The Hour Of The Wolf
5. Labyrinth
6. Strange Eggs
7. Death’s Solitude
8. Mercury & Sulphour

Demon Head is:
J.W. – Drums
M.S.F. – Bass
B.G.N. – Guitar
T.G.N. – Guitar
M.F.L. – Vocals

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Demon Head, “The Resistance” live at Muskelrock 2018

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Causa Sui, Free Ride: Enduring Vibe

Posted in Reviews on November 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

causa sui free ride

If you only know Causa Sui through their latter day work in their Summer Sessions series (review herediscussed here), or on their 2016 and 2017 studio albums bringing together heavy psychedelic exploration with progressive krautrock/jazz fusion, Return to Sky (review here) and Vibraciones Doradas (review here), a revisit to 2007’s Free Ride is going to highlight just how different a band they’ve become in the ensuing 11 years. Out of print in its original edition as their first outing for Elektrohasch Schallplatten following their 2005 self-titled debut on Nasoni (some day that CD will be mine), Free Ride is given a new art treatment in 2018 to bring its original cover in line with the aesthetics of their imprint El Paraiso Records and is presented as a 71-minute 2LP remastered by the band’s own Jonas Munk that includes a side D comprised entirely of a 19-minute rendition of the song “El Paraiso” for which the label is named, recorded live at Roadburn 2007.

The inclusion of that signature piece has been listed as the definitive version, though it’s also appeared on the band’s live outings, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here) and 2017’s Live in Copenhagen (review here), so indeed it’s a staple of their performances. And it’s not a minor inclusion here, even next to Free Ride closer “Newborn Road,” which consumes side C and is 15 minutes long, but it doesn’t necessarily define the vibe of the album itself. That work is done more by the way the album unfolds with the increasing immersion of its side A, with the acoustics of the opening title-track leading to the spacier push of “Lotus” and the fuzzy-crunch into spacious, Made in Japan-style buildup of “White Sun.” That song is a riot and has been for 11 years, but again, for those who’ve taken on Causa Sui really at any point since the release of 2013’s Euporie Tide (discussed here), Free Ride is going to be a surprise in its rock-based sound and even more for the inclusion of vocals.

Understand, it’s not a completely different sonic context, and with cuts like “White Sun,” side B leadoff “Passing Breeze” and “Newborn Road” ranging upwards and north of 10 minutes apiece — not to mention “El Paraiso” as a bonus track pushing the outing to eight songs in 71 minutes — the adventurousness of sound for which Causa Sui have become known is still visible in hindsight in this material. Even “Free Ride” and the easy-flowing “Flowers of Eventide” that caps side B with its acoustic guitars, flutes and tambourine speak to the open vibe with which the Copenhagen-based outfit were working at the time, but the presence of Kasper Markus on vocals as frontman along with Munk (who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album originally) on guitar, organ, electrics and vocals, bassist Jess Kahr, drummer/percussionist/cover artist Jakob Skøtt puts Free Ride roundly in the territory of heavy psychedelia. The classic boogie on “Lotus,” the atmospheric organ work on “White Sun,” the sweeping fuzz, drift and final culmination of “Newborn Road” all seem to commune with a heavy ’70s mindset, but at the same time it’s impossible to ignore the influence of what was then Europe’s burgeoning heavy psych scene, and I don’t think we’re meant to.

causa sui free ride lp

In the guitar tones, in Markus‘ vocal approach and in the propensity for fluid, well-directed jamming, Free Ride has always been a smooth fit in the Elektrohasch canon of the time, along with records by Colour Haze, Josiah and even The Kings of Frog Island, which isn’t to mention others like Sgt. Sunshine or fellow Danish groups Gas Giant and the more garage-minded Baby Woodrose. What distinguished Causa Sui then still distinguishes them now: their instrumental chemistry. Listening to the winding blast of fuzz in “El Paraiso” or the sheer forward movement of “Lotus” earlier in the record, the foundation of what the band has become in the years since is right there in the work of Kahr, Skøtt and Munk. They’d go on to develop it in various directions, of course, but there’s no taking away from the prowess or how well they work together on Free Ride, the live-sounding production of which is organic enough to transition easily into “El Paraiso” such that it feels more like the closing of a set than the end of an album.

And of course, underscoring the instrumentality of a reissue from a band who’d go on to work instrumentally is a good deal of historical lensing, but that’s not to take away from what Markus does on vocals either. He’s a significant contributor to the heavy psych feel of these tracks, whether it’s the echo stretching out to lead into the midsection jam of “White Sun” or his standing out front of the charge of the raucous fuzzer “Top of the Hill,” providing a human anchor to the frenetic momentum built as the track shifts into its second-half nod-out. Markus had appeared on the self-titled as well, and at the time it wasn’t known this would be his final studio offering with them so this isn’t like a guest dropping by the studio and, “Oh hey, while I’m here I’ll be the frontman.” He was a member of this band, and especially in that light, including the “El Paraiso” recording from Roadburn seems prudent, since it so excellently captures this form of Causa Sui on stage, which is clearly how they were meant to be experienced given the live feel of the recording itself.

But if Free Ride is arguing in favor of its listeners showing up to a Causa Sui gig, one can only count that point as having been made in the years since, given their position at the forefront of Europe’s heavy psychedelic underground, their fostering of acts through El Paraiso RecordsMunk and Skøtt‘s solo work, etc. They are, in fact, relentlessly creative, and what this reissue does — aside from the simple fact of making the album available again; which is enough reason on its own for it to exist — is capture that creativity as it was just beginning to bloom. A year later, they’d start their Summer Sessions series and continue it through 2008-2009, and from there expand their sound immensely as their interests led them along various other directions for the Pewt’r SessionsEuporie Tide and their work since. What Free Ride does, though, is present one of the two examples of the foundation from whence that expansion grew, and whether being viewed as a document of modern heavy psych in the making or just as a killer heavy rock record with immersive jams, natural tones and a soulful vocal and instrumental execution, there’s no question it stands up to the 11 years since it first arrived.

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The Sonic Dawn Premiere “Forever 1969”; Eclipse Due Feb. 1

Posted in audiObelisk on October 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the sonic dawn

Danish classic psychedelic rockers begin their third album, Eclipse, with a statement of purpose in the track ‘Forever 1969,’ and while I can’t confess to have heard the righteously titled “Psychedelic Ranger” that follows it or what’s presumably an ode to the Free City in “Christiania” later in the record, one assumes that “Forever 1969” carries its spirit through at least on some level or it probably wouldn’t be leading off. Past and future collide in their homage to the year when psychedelia began to give way to the birth of heavy rock, and while the title might remind immediately of The Stooges if only for directly calling out the end of the 1960s, The Sonic Dawn‘s jazzy progressive drift is on another trip entirely: “You like think we’re left behind/But really, man, we’re ahead of our time/’Cuz ’69 is another state of mind.”

So be it. The Copenhagen trio were last heard from in Spring 2017 with the also-set-to-be-reissued-in-early-2019 Into the Long Night (review here), which was their first LP through Heavy Psych Sounds after the sonic dawn eclipseissuing their Halloween 2015 debut, Perception (review here), via Nasoni Records, and with “Forever 1969,” they tease a consistency of tonal warmth and melodic centrality to their method. Composition — structure, form — was a major factor in the effectiveness of Into the Long Night, which collected nine tracks from vocalist/guitarist Emil Bureau, bassist Niels “Bird” Fuglede and drummer/backing vocalist Jonas Waaben, and something else “Forever 1969” teases is a further stylistic classicism in its efficiency. It’s the album opener and it runs short at 2:44 and seems to stop itself quickly to hit that mark. Given The Sonic Dawn‘s affinity for that era, that hardly seems like a coincidence. Rather, in the style of an old 45RPM single in a crinkly paper sleeve, they’re cutting out quick, ending on the chorus, making their point and getting out. It’s an interesting turn for the band to make and another manifestation of their proto-heavy rock mindset.

The Sonic Dawn will herald the coming of Eclipse next month on a round of European tour dates with their labelmate Brant Bjork, and one assumes there will be more on Eclipse between now and the three-plus months before it sees release, so stay tuned. You can, in the meantime, stream the premiere of “Forever 1969” on the player below and dig into the album details under that, which come courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Forever 1969 is the first single of the upcoming The Sonic Dawn album Eclipse. The album will be released 1st February 2019 via Heavy Psych Sounds.

Forever 1969 delivers a simple yet powerful message: That you can be, whoever you want to be. The 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the largest peace marches is coming up, but The Sonic Dawn are not just nostalgic. In their own words, “Times may change, but the struggle remains the same.” It is always the right time to free your mind.

THE SONIC DAWN’s upcoming “Eclipse” was recorded to tape in The Village Recording, Denmark’s best analog studio, and has been produced by THE SONIC DAWN and Thomas Vang (Roger Waters etc.). Mastered in the Svenska Grammofonstudion by Hans Olsson Brookes (Graveyard a.o.) and cut to vinyl in the Abbey Road Studios lead “Eclipse” to an ultimate sound quality.

“Eclipse”, the band’s third full-length, is the product of a full year’s labor, with 13 blistering tracks carefully selected among over more than 40 candidates. Inspired by personal tragedies and the current meltdown of the world as we know it, the songs deal with a feeling of despair that many will recognize, but also seem to say that we can heal and come out stronger, if we dare take the leap. The result is a cinematic journey in sonic technicolor with catchy melodies that cast a mysterious shadow.

New album “Eclipse” will be released February 1st and available in the following formats:
– 25 Test Press vinyl
– 250 LTD silver vinyl
– 250 LTD splatter trasp. background / black – pink fluo
– 500 LTD red solid vinyl
– Black vinyl
– CD and digital

TRACK LISTING:
1. Forever 1969
2. Psychedelic Ranger
3. The Stranger
4. No Chaser
5. Opening Night
6. Circle of Things
7. On the Edge of Our Time
8. Christiania
9. The Last Page
10. Love Bird
11. To Change Who We Are
12. Islands in Time
13. Towards the End

THE SONIC DAWN European Tour 2018 w/ Brant Bjork:
06.11.18 DE Hamburg | Fabrik
07.11.18 NL Amsterdam | Melkweg
08.11.18 BE Leuven | Het Depot
09.11.18 UK London | Garage
10.11.18 FR Paris | Petit Bain
11.11.18 NL Tilburg | O13
12.11.18 DE Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
13.11.18 CH Zürich | Rote Fabrik
14.11.18 CH Martigny | Caves Du Manoir
15.11.18 IT Turin | Spazio 211
16.11.18 AT Innsbruck | Hafen (HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST)
17.11.18 DE Munich | Feierwerk
18.11.18 AT Vienna | Arena
19.11.18 DE Dresden | Beatpol
20.11.18 DE Berlin | Festsaal Kreuzberg

THE SONIC DAWN are:
Emil Bureau (guitar & vocals)
Jonas Waaben (drums)
Niels ‘Bird’ Fuglede (bass guitar)

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Demon Head on Tour Now; “The Resistence” Live Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demon head

Demon Head hit the road at the end of last week doing both headlining gigs and support spots for Magna Carta Cartel. Their latest EP, The Resistance (review here), came out earlier this year on The Sign Records, and it’s for the title-track of that two-songer that the band have a new live video. Shot at Muskelrock 2018 in the great outdoors of Southern Sweden — because fucking a right — the clip finds the Copenhagen outfit right at home for their proto-metallic vibes and the assembled masses before them seem largely to be eating up their classic-style riffs like so much fare cooked on a portable campground stove. Sounds gnarly. Looks gnarly. Is probably gnarly.

They’re no strangers to touring at this point, and especially after The Resistence provided the ‘two’ in a one-two wallop after 2017’s long-player, Thunder on the Fields (review here), one only looks forward all the more to what their inevitable third record might bring. Dark grooves and warm tones? That’ll work just fine, thanks.

Here’s the remaining tour dates, should you happen to be in that part of the world, and the video to dig into:

demon head tour poster

DEMON HEAD EUROPEAN TOUR

The diabolic rock band Demon Head is once again on their way out on a tour. The band is doing a headline tour in Scandinavia and are then heading out in Europe supporting MCC [Magna Carta Cartel].

In April Demon Head released their ‘The Resistance’. The EP was an epilogue to their second album ‘Thunder on the Fields’ released in 2017. Demon Head did a large tour all over Europe in May 2018 where the final show took place at Muskelrock Festival. The song ‘The Resistance’ was caught on tape and is now released as a live video.

+++ ILDFÆRD OVER SKANDINAVIEN +++
Let’s go!

– 25. Sep. Stockholm, SWE – Geronimo
– 26. Sep. Malmö, SWE – Plan b
– 27. Sep. Oslo, NO – Krøsset
– 28. Sep. Haugusund, NO, heavy nights Fest
– 29. Sep. Aarhus, DK – HQ
– 30. Sep. Oldenburg, DE – MTS
– 1. Oct. Leipzig, DE – Black Label
– 2. Oct. Hamburg, DE – Logo*
– 3. Oct. Berlin, DE – BiNuu*
– 4. Oct. Cologne, DE – Luxor*
– 5. Oct. Paris, FR – Etoiles*
– 6. Oct. Leiden, NL – Gebr de nobel*
– 7. Oct. Vosselaar, BE – Biebob*

* as special guests for MCC [Magna Carta Cartel]

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Demon Head, “The Resistance” live at Muskelrock 2018

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The Sonic Dawn Announce New Album Set for 2019 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Whittled down from an apparent glut of material — 30 songs is not inconsiderable — the forthcoming long-player from Danish classic-psychedelic trio The Sonic Dawn will be released early next year via Heavy Psych Sounds. Why the delay? Well, one expects with pressing times, the label’s schedule, putting together art and all the standard pre-album hoopla — preorders, track streams, videos if they go that route, etc. — it would be a few months anyway, and I don’t know how to say this because it seems utterly impossible, but a few months from now is like November/December, and it makes sense that The Sonic Dawn would rather wait until the New Year to get their record out rather than have it arrive around the holiday season when most folks’ minds are elsewhere. It’s a deceptively quick jump between now and early 2019, however much that might sound like the future.

Fortunately, The Sonic Dawn sound a good bit like the past, you know, to balance things out. Yet untitled, their new record follows Spring 2017’s Into the Long Night (review here), which was the three-piece’s first for Heavy Psych Sounds after making their debut in 2015 with Perception (review here), issued by Nasoni Records.

The PR wire brings announcement of work completed:

the sonic dawn

Danish psychedelic trio THE SONIC DAWN completes new album; to be released early 2019 on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Good news for all fans of the psychedelic sounds! The Sonic Dawn just finished recording their third LP, the culmination of a full year’s labor. Following their first two album releases, the Danish trio has toured Europe more or less constantly, only returning home to focus on this, their most ambitious project to date.

“This past year, we’ve been forced to deal with the shadow side of life. We turned feelings of loss, self-doubt and fear into a deeply personal record, finding hope and strength in the process. You hear a shift from darkness to light in these songs, picked from over 30 tracks we wrote. It’s our biggest work ever.” states Emil Bureau (guitar/vocals).

The Sonic Dawn recorded their new album in The Village, Denmark’s best analog studio, with producer Thomas Vang, coming directly from album sessions with Roger Waters.

While the album title and release date is yet to be announced, it is expected to hit record stores and online platforms in early 2019, followed by an extensive album tour. The Sonic Dawn will release their upcoming record world-wide on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

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The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night (2017)

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