Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

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Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

iah iah

Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Hijo de la Tormenta, El Manto de la Especie: Finding Ground

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

hijo de la tormenta el manto de la especie

I don’t imagine I need to run down the history of Argentina’s heavy rock scene for you — from Pappo’s Blues through Los Natas and into modern fuzz and sludge like Demonauta — but suffice it to say the country’s contributions to the international sphere of underground rock and roll have been manifold, varied and forward-looking. They have been a part of the conversation for as long as the conversation has been happening. All this is as a preface to note that with their second album, El Manto de la Especie, Cordoba-based trio Hijo de la Tormenta are stepping forward to claim their piece of this storied real estate. They do so with six tracks and just under 38 minutes of laid back, tonally resonant, subtly jazzy heavy, earthy psychedelia, confident in its execution, organic in its presentation and warm in its effect on the listener.

When so inclined, as on “Manifiesto al Sol” or “El Abuelo,” the lyrics for which are based on a Walt Whitman poem, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Juan Cruz Ledesma, bassist Guido Di Carlo and drummer Santiago Ludueña — plus Fabricio Morás on keys for “Rock Para Huir de una Ciudad,” “53 Cosechas” and “Manifiesto al Sol” — are able to enact a formidable heavy roll, and they do so bringing Di Carlo‘s bass forward on “El Abuelo” to enact El Manto de la Especie‘s most engaging nods. The context in which it arrives is no less pivotal to the overall impression of the album, however, and spacious, airy keyboards and swinging cymbal work in the aforementioned “Rock Para Huir de una Ciudad,” which opens, help set an exploratory tone guided by sure hands.

Hijo de la Tormenta made their self-titled debut (review here) in 2014 and tagged it as “mountain psychedelia.” Their second album offers some similar vibe — you’ll note I called it “earthy” above — but feels less limited in its landscape, which is a sign of the growth in chemistry the trio have undertaken in the last two years. The scope of El Manto de la Especie is broader, in other words, but the flow is no less consuming, as “Rock Para Huir de una Ciudad” opens quietly and shifts into heavier push to make way for the start-stop fuzz of “53 Cosechas” and the jam-into-low-end-bliss of “El Abuelo,” which hypnotizes in its first half of its six minutes only to offer a knockout blow of bass in its second, all in quick succession.

Part of that the first three tracks are legitimately shorter than what follows — apart from closer “Recibimiento,” which is two minutes long — as both “Manifiesto al Sol” (8:37) and “Un Mañana Aún Más Glorioso Nos Espera” (12:31) range farther, but the feeling of continuity between the first three songs is essential to how the album overall leads the listener through its course, and the fluidity of groove that persists isn’t to be understated. Hijo de la Tormenta are in no rush, and their songwriting is patient, encompassing and varied in structure, but they’re not simply wandering for the sake of wandering either. That motion that pushes through one song into the next gives a linear feel, and the sense of design in the record’s structure, drawing the listener in early and establishing such a rich atmosphere of natural tonality, only speaks to the level of conscious intent at play on the part of the band. They make it sound effortless, and maybe it is since nothing here sounds forced in the slightest, but it’s an admirable outcome either way and it makes El Manto de la Especie a joy front to back.

hijo-de-la-tormenta

And when they do make their way to “Manifiesto al Sol” and “Un Mañana Aún Más Glorioso Nos Espera,” the signal is pretty clear that they’ve arrived at the heart of the album. Aside from the fact that, together, the two tracks account for more than half the total runtime, the feeling as the lightly progressive beginning of “Manifiesto al Sol” gets underway is that the trio have been working toward this build. The rhythm calms somewhat before Ledesma‘s vocals come in with a melody that reminds of Been Obscene, and by then they’re more than halfway through. Keyboards again play a large role as they push into more weighted low end and a fuzzed-out guitar solo, bringing a chorus back late to finish, and quiet guitar noodling opens “Un Mañana Aún Más Glorioso Nos Espera,” going past two minutes before the first cymbal crash accompanies.

There are some trades between quiet and loud parts, but the core of El Manto de la Especie‘s longest track remains the instrumental chemistry between LedesmaDi Carlo and Ludueña, vocals arriving after the band has shifted seamlessly through heavier thrust and atmospheric desert jazz, which quiets down at the midpoint only to pick up again, led by fuzz guitar, backed by fuzz bass, propelled by the drums as they hit the peak that serves as the payoff for the album as a whole. They end “Un Mañana Aún Más Glorioso Nos Espera” quiet and offer a pastoral epilogue in the acoustic-meets-e-bow “Recibimiento,” some late “oohs” providing the closer’s only vocals for a harmonized, folkish feel. Hopefully that’s something Hijo de la Tormenta are teasing perhaps as a signal of future progression, i.e., where they might be headed, but it also adds another element to El Manto de la Especie while retaining the ambience of the material preceding.

The clear maturity Hijo de la Tormenta showcase on what’s still just their second full-length is likewise encouraging as regards future prospects for staking their stylistic claim, but that shouldn’t undercut the value of what they’ve accomplished here either. With these songs, they both signal what they have to offer going forward and begin making that offering.

Hijo de la Tormenta, El Manto de la Especie (2016)

Hijo de la Tormenta on Thee Facebooks

Hijo de la Tormenta on Bandcamp

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Atavismo and Grajo Release Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The tracks have been online at Nooirax Productions and La Choza de Doe since December, but the vinyl just reportedly came in this week for the new split release between Spanish outfits Atavismo and Grajo. One song from each is featured along with some decidedly manic artwork, and as you can hear below, it’s a decidedly different take from each group that still resides under the umbrella of heavy.

For Atavismo, whose Desintegración (review here) debut continues to haunt in the best way possible, they give a spacier push on their “Haribo,” repeating the title line in Hawkwindian style and calling to mind a richly cosmic vibe. Grajo, who will reportedly unveil their own debut later this year through DHU Records, present a decidedly doomier take, with dense low end and fuzz guitars topped by ethereal and echoing vocals, the six-minute “Feeding Our Demons” building to a thick head of riffy wash.

Both cuts have something to offer, and since at this point I’ll take whatever Atavismo are willing to give, I’ll take this as a glimpse of where they might at least in part be headed after their first record. Dig it:

atavismo grajo split

Finally in our hands the coveted split 7 ” Atavismo / Grajo… By this time, we only have it available for direct sale at concerts or in hand, but if you want to be with him, you can purchase it through Nooirax Producciones and / or La Choza de Doe.

In Short, more news… Stay tuned!!

1. Atavismo – Haribo 05:44
2. Grajo – Feeding Our Demons 06:13

Atavismo.
Pot: Guitars, Vocals and synthesizers.
Pow: Drums and Vocals.
Pat: Bass and Vocals.

“Haribo” was recorded and mixed in November 2015 by José Ortega at Estudios Tagarmina.

Grajo.
Javier: Bass
Liz: Vocals
Jose: Guitars
Felix: Drums

“Feeding Our Demons” was recorded and mixed in September 2015 by Raúl Pérez at La Mina.
Mastered by Mario G. Alberni at Kadifornia.

Artwork by Antonio Ramírez.

Edited by:

Nooirax Producciones
La Choza de Doe
Fuzz t-shirts
Aladeriva Records

LCDD 008

https://www.facebook.com/Atavismo-233096556878903/
https://www.facebook.com/grajorockband/
https://nooirax.bandcamp.com/album/atavismo-grajo-split
https://lachozadedoe.bandcamp.com/album/split-7-atavismo-grajo

Atavismo & Grajo, Split 7″

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Hijo de la Tormenta Announce New LP El Manto de la Especie

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

If the name isn’t familiar or you didn’t get to hear Hijo de la Tormenta‘s 2014 self-titled debut (review here), do yourself a favor and press play on the Bandcamp stream below of their digital 2015 two-songer, En Vivo en Buenos Aires, because the rich-toned psychedelic appeal is damned near immediate and it won’t take you too long before you decide to dip back to the record — also on Bandcamp — from there. The good news is they’re making a second one. It’s called El Manto de la Especie.

The bad news? They haven’t quite made it yet. According to their new bio — presented in its entirety below — they’re currently in pre-production for the sophomore outing, with a release planed for sometime in the first half of 2016. Golly. If I was the putting-together-a-list-of-anticipated-2016-releases type, I might want to make use of that information.

In case you do as well, here you go:

hijo de la tormenta

There’s a significant difference between stepping into a music scene and breaking through into one. Belonging in one or other category is mainly determined by the strength that defines that first encounter. That being said, it is easy to acknowledge Hijo de la Tormenta as a member of the second group. The three-piece band from Córdoba, Argentina, broke into the vast reservoir of music expressions with a unique and outstanding proposal, challenging with revelry traditional and somewhat obsolete ways to think and experiment music.

In a justified refusal to accept any limiting label to what they construct musically, the band found its own way to define and interpret its creations. Having been greatly inspired by the mountains of Córdoba’s Sierras- a place where they found a creative shelter and a certain conceptual and ideological meaning for their expressions- Hijo de la Tormenta thoughtfully perceived its musical creations as “psicodelia del monte” (mountain psychedelia).

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Hijo de la Tormenta is how wisely they build their music: a unique mixture between seventies rock’s purity and the unavoidable appropriation of its own time. One can accurately picture this odd combination when taking into consideration how the band is equipped: an exquisite selection of tube amps and vintage instruments that get reinforced through the power and definition of contemporary’s studio production. The music experience that Hijo de la Tormenta builds is an unusual dimension of time itself.

The wisdom and maturity behind the band’s music choices, aesthetics and management is a rare feature among independent bands of the country. It is hard to believe that the band has achieved such acumen with only two singles and an LP (Venado Records, 2014), in its catalog. Hijo de la Tormenta knows what it’s got to offer and wants to deliver it in the best possible way; its urgency is merely expressive. The result is the polished, meticulous and well-conceived work that effectively reflects the essential virtues of the band-roughness, forcefulness and conviction- in its self-titled debut album.

Hijo de la Tormenta’s first record was highly praised for its cohesion, its complexity and wit, the insightful way in which different genres and sounds come together in it, its unusual quality and its impeccable production labor — due to a long recording and mixing process and the experienced criteria of Gonzalo Villagra, bass player of legendary free-rock band Los Natas, in the final stage of the process. With vehemence, Hijo de la Tormenta´s revelry was accolade along its sensitivity and the moving dedication they have put into each one of its compositions. One must not forget that these are exceptional qualities on any debut album.

The enthusiasm gathered around Hijo de la Tormenta’s self- titled record, along with the band’s assertive self-management, was embodied in the impressive gigs they have organized since; their drive to push the limits of their proposal is restless. Hijo de la Tormenta shared gigs with great representatives of heavy and psychedelic rock, among them: Radio Moscow (USA), Yawning Man (USA), Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus (SE) and Hielo Negro (CHL). Naturally, the band also had solid presentations with some of the most important bands of Argentina’s underground music scene: Poseidótica, Humo del Cairo, Las Diferencias, among many others. Hijo de la Tormenta’s live presentations are undoubtedly one of its finest attributes, it is definitely the best way of channelizing the inner strength of the band’s compositions; a clear example of that visceral connection of sounds can be appreciated in the band’s latest production: two songs recorded in last year’s Club V presentation with Yawning Man. With forceful determination in federalizing and globalizing their ambitious proposal (and with the collaboration of collectives: Venado Records and Fauna Records), Hijo de la Tormenta was able to conduct several tours within the country, with aims to an upcoming summer tour in Europe.

Today, the band’s sophomore album is on a pre-production stage. “El Manto de la Especie” is a music platform aimed to place a critical standpoint from where to analyze societies’ future through a necessary review of the past and the present. The band’s devotion towards nature, and the healing powers it holds against the vicious capitalist system, has always been one of its most distinctive features; in El Manto de la Especie it pushes the band’s ambition in a search for a collective goal, an awakening of solidarity and communal action.

Challenging the high standards they have established for themselves, the band’s second production (awaited for the first half of 2016), will continue the task to propagate that seductive, immersive loudness, enhanced by the band’s appropriation of the essential elements of classic rock. Fostering new ways of constructing, producing, managing and sustain an exceptional mixture of sounds that stay true to its ideological and social aims, Hijo de la Tormenta keeps exploring the margins of its proposal with the same strength that has guided each of its productions. The band hopes to get results that will be as sincere as the premises that encouraged them.

https://www.facebook.com/hijodelatormenta/
http://hijodelatormenta.bandcamp.com/

Hijo de la Tormenta, En Vivo en Buenos Aires (2015)

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On the Radar: Hijo de la Tormenta, Hijo de la Tormenta

Posted in On the Radar on September 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

hijo de la tormenta

With their self-released, self-titled full-length debut, Argentinian three-piece Hijo de la Tormenta embark on what they like to call “forest psychedelia,” or “psicodelia del monte” (“mountain psychedelia”). I think the latter might be a more apt desciptor for the Córdoba unit’s sound itself, which balances gracefully wandering passages with dense tonal largesse — big riffs and open spaces brought to bear with a patient sensibility that impresses all the more considering Hijo del la Tormenta‘s Hijo de la Tormenta arrives preceded only by a 2012 EP, Simple 5/12. There isn’t as much a feeling either of foreboding or nature worship that “forest” brings to mind in a musical context, but frankly, wherever Hijo de la Tormenta are spending their time outside, in the forest, the mountains, both or neither, it’s clearly working for them. Their first full-length is engaging and immersive, creating a rich flow early on and running a wide scope in their largely-instrumental material that one gets the sense is only going to get wider as time goes on. Nor do they forget to kick a bit of ass, as songs like “Alienación” and second cut “Dilusiva” showcase.

The latter is about as straightforward and immediate as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Juan Cruz Ledesma, bassist Guido di Carlo and drummer Santi Ludueña get, but even their jammiest and most meandering stretches — a song like nine-minute opener “Viaje de Ida/Viaje de Vuelta” (reportedly based on a poem by Roberto Bolaño) or the two-parter hijo de la tormenta self-titled“Desde la Espesura,” which sandwiches “Dilusiva” on the other side — retain a feeling of motion. A big part of that stems from the fervency of their grooving in a song like “Alienación,” the opening sample of which jars a bit but not enough to really be a misstep, each successive track on Hijo de la Tormenta drawing the listener further into the linear course of the album as a whole. “Desde la Espesura (Lado A)” and “Desde la Espesura (Lado B)” both do an excellent job of that, departing from some of “Viaje de Ida/Viaje de Vuelta”‘s bigger sound to a more hypnotic vibe, and though it has a build, “Sierras del Paiman” continues in this fashion en route to the return to longer-form songwriting on “Alienación,” lead guitar dominating the mix in the second half for an extended, bluesy solo that pushes the song into highlight territory, a rumbling fuzz remaining after the rest of the elements seem to recede.

“Alienación” is paired with “Desalienación,” which opens with Hijo de la Tormenta‘s most forceful riffing since “Dilusiva” and shifts fluidly into a slower, more subdued bass-led groove. That, in turn, progresses smoothly into jazzy snare work, airy guitar strums — offset, of course, by dense fuzz — and late-arriving vocals providing the album’s most singularly Los Natasian moment. That band’s Gonzalo Villagra mastered, and the bulk of Hijo de la Tormenta‘s sound is less Natas-derived than many I’ve encountered in Argentina’s well-populated heavy scene, but it’s also worth noting that the band’s moniker was used as the opening line of the title-track lyrics to Los Natas‘ 2006 album, El Hombre Montaña. Still, the simple fact that Hijo de la Tormenta would position themselves in a heavy rock landscape other than the desert speaks to a burgeoning drive toward individualism, and as they finish out with the psychedelic “Postales del Fin del Mundo” with a heady jam topped by ethereal layers of guest vocals from Laura Dalmasso it seems less like they’ve shown their complete range on what’s nonetheless a cohesive and engaging first long-player. As they continue to refine their sound, expect the geography likewise to come more into focus.

Hijo de la Tormenta, Hijo de la Tormenta (2014)

Hijo de la Tormenta on Thee Facebooks

Hijo de la Tormenta on Bandcamp

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