Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

A Storm of Light on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

Z28 on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

 

Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

Forrest on Thee Facebooks

Forrest on Bandcamp

 

1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

1476 on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Playing Records on Bandcamp

 

Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

Craneium on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

 

Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

Magmakammer on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz webstore

 

Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

Max Tovstyi on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Craneium Release The Narrow Line

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

craneium

This digital release for Craneium‘s second long-player, The Narrow Line (review here), will be followed in a couple weeks by the physical version of the album. The band premiered the rocker “I’m Your Demon” here and tap into more stretched-out vibes on other songs, but the occasion is worth making either way, and so here we are. They talk a little bit about the recording process — six months in the making — and the work that went into getting the songs ready through preproduction and so on, and I think the finished product is pretty emblematic of the effort that went into building it from the ground up.

That finished product, by the way, is streaming at the bottom of this post.

Happy release date to Craneium, and enjoy:

craneium the narrow line

Craneium – The Narrow Line

We are really happy to finally share our second album “The Narrow Line” with all of you. It has been a long time coming since our first one in 2015. We found ourselves without a bass player two times since then, so finding a band member, rehearsing, getting to know each other, write new material and move on to the stage when we finally had everything in place and ready to hit REC took a while. But we’re back and we’re stoked about the new album, and we’re really hoping you all will dig it too!

We recorded it with the same guy who worked with us on the last record, and we did it here in our hometown of Turku. Took about 6 months from start to finish. This time we put more effort into the pre-production and tested ideas. The main different being that we’ve learnt how to do things better and how to do things right. Recording it was a blast and many ideas came about in the studio, like the intro solo on “I’m Your Demon”. For this record we had it mastered at Studio Underjord in Sweden and we think the overall sound is so much better this time with more low-end and punch in the songs. The artwork was done by the Talented Dominic Sohor from Bolton, UK.

The album consists of 7 tracks exploring various styles within the genre of fuzzy-rock. From fuzz rock, stoner and desert influences via doom, space, psychedelia and heavy music in general. We’d like to think this is the sound of the band, not really able to stick it in one category, but instead a mishmash of everything we like which in turn makes us into the band we are. Metal Temple put it quite well in their review: What CRANEIUM present here is not so much an album but an adventure, escapism for the listener, there is enough talent and invention throughout the recording to keep you hooked, however, their greatest achievement is in how they seemed to throw off the shackles of staying within the perimeter of conventional stoner, desert rock and still appeal to that genre.

We don’t like to be conventional, we like being Craneium!

Craneium is:
Andreas Kaján – Vocals & Guitars
Martin Ahlö – Vocals & Guitars
Joel Kronqvist – Drums
Jonas Ridberg – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/craneiumband/
http://craneiumband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/craneiumband/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

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Craneium Premiere “I’m Your Demon” from New Album The Narrow Line

Posted in audiObelisk on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

craneium

Finland’s Craneium will release their second album, The Narrow Line, Dec. 7 via Ripple Music. The Turku four-piece were picked up by the label in 2016 ahead of the release of their debut, Explore the Void, and with the seven tracks of their sophomore outing, they bring together psychedelic adventurousness with clarity of songwriting and a healthy dose of fuzz. Their songs work to find a niche in heavy rock that’s neither overly weighted so as to lose sight of its focus on melody nor so tripped out that the existence of any kind of focus at all is a contradiction. While seemingly based on jams, songs like “The Goat” and “The Soothsayer” have been carved into structured pieces, and with the rolling fuzz of opener “Manifest” as a forward first impression, the dual vocals of guitarists Andreas Kaján and Martin Ahlö complement as an immediate distinguishing factor that the subsequent, heavier chorus of “I’m Your Demon” only reaffirms. With Jonas Ridberg on bass and Joel Kronqvist on drums, “I’m Your Demon” is able to evoke boogie rock without losing itself into retroist cliche, and as with so much of the album surrounding, a pace is maintained that keeps the feel laid back when it wants to be but still able to push ahead when it wants to.

You can listen to the premiere of “I’m Your Demon” on the player below, and while it’s the shortest song on The Narrow Line at four and a half minutes, it nonetheless stands as an example of Craneium working in the space they’re making their own craneium im your demonthroughout the album, culling influence from desert rock and heavy psych, doom and a full swath of other whatnots in order to strike the balance between wall-o’-fuzz and the solo that cuts through in the second half. Dig that mix. Then the vocal harmonies return. There’s some underlying grunge thrown into the stylistic palette as well — it’s the brown you’ll hear in the guitar tone — but Craneium emerge clean from “I’m Your Demon” and continue to build momentum in “Beyond the Pale” while bringing to bear a more patient delivery as led by the guitars, moving into a dynamic interplay between lead guitar and Ridberg‘s bass in the second half that only feeds into the electric surge happening as they make ready to close out side A with the aforementioned “The Soothsayer,” the groove no less paramount there than it has been all along.

I’ll admit I keep wanting closer “Man’s Ruin” to be about the defunct record label headed by Frank Kozik that did so much to break ground for heavy rock in the late ’90s, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s about space and hubris, which is fair enough. The finale reinforces the fuzz of earlier cuts “Manifest” and “I’m Your Demon” while answering a bit of the funk that shows itself early in “The Soothsayer” and following Side B slabs “Redemption” — the longest inclusion at 6:44 and a highlight of Kronqvist‘s drumming in meter, cymbal splash and tom work — and “The Goat,” which is as languid as Craneium get, with a dreamy meandering at about four minutes in that offsets the more weighted shove that accompanies. “Man’s Ruin,” as it should, brings the various sides together in a last display of all of it as the band’s own pastiche and the expanding ground on which they’re continuing to work to coalesce their approach — so much as they want it to coalesce; some aspects here are definitely intended to remain liquefied — and to refine the balance of structure and space in their craft. They strike that balance well throughout The Narrow Line — one doubts they titled the album thinking of the thin borders between heavy subgenres, but it applies nonetheless — and emerge from the other end of “Man’s Ruin” having not at all succumbed to tragedy as a result of their ambitions.

“I’m Your Demon” is on the player below, and Kaján took some time to talk about The Narrow Line and the song itself, so you can read what he had to say beneath that. The album is out Dec. 7 on Ripple.

Enjoy:

Andreas Kaján on “I’m Your Demon”:

Our second album has been a long time coming. After releasing “Explore The Void” back in 2015 digitally we got signed by Ripple Music and the physical album was out in 2016. Since then we’ve had some bass players come and go which have made it difficult to move forward and write new material. We finally found a guy and got around to writing new material and by summer of 2017 we had 8 new tracks. We recorded the album during the spring of 2018 and it will be released by Ripple Music December 7th this year. This time around I think we learned a little something from recording our first album and applied that while recording “The Narrow Line”. I think we have listened to the critics and tried to put more time and effort into the production this time. Lets hope you think so too!

The new songs highlight the Craneium sound like the last album, but we’d like to think it has evolved since and that we have refined it. A lot of clean and mellow parts rounded off with heavy grooves and hooks.

A few words about this second single release: “I’m Your Demon” was actually the last song that we wrote for the new album. Most of the other songs we had been working on a couple of months before this one came along. It’s a bit of an oddball for us since it’s the first song that isn’t in a 4/4 time signature, so we’re calling it our prog-song — justified, right? The guitar solo in the beginning of the song came about in the studio while recording it. We decided to play the clean part a little longer before the vocals come in, so we went ahead and threw a solo in there. Really fun to play with a cool breakdown part that culminates in a guitar solo and then on to a modulation of the last chorus. If it weren’t for all the fuzz we might even make the European Song Contest!

The album is called “The Narrow Line” and will be out on Ripple Music worldwide December 7th 2018.

Craneium is:
Andreas Kaján – Vocals & Guitars
Martin Ahlö – Vocals & Guitars
Joel Kronqvist – Drums
Jonas Ridberg – Bass

Craneium on Thee Facebooks

Craneium on Spotify

Craneium on Bandcamp

Craneium on Instagram

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Craneium Sign to Ripple Music; Explore the Void Due this Winter

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

craneium

From the Finnish heavy hotbed of Turku, four-piece rockers Craneium issued their debut full-length, Explore the Void, last fall. The band has been picked up to do a pressing of the album via Ripple Music, and it’s received a “winter” release date, no doubt because the label’s schedule is so packed. Fair enough. It may be 2017 before the CD and/or LP shows up, but Explore the Void can be streamed in full now from Craneium‘s Bandcamp (also below), and boasts a fuzzy sound as true to its intent as it is the fiery skies in Alexander von Wieding‘s cover art.

You’ll find that below, followed by the release announcement from the PR wire.

Goes like this:

craneium explore the void-700

Ripple Music Signs Finnish Psych Rockers Craneium to World-wide Deal and New Album

Prepare for a huge slab of protometal leads, psychedelic riffs, rolling bass lines, with killer melodies and grooves, as Ripple Music unleashes the debut album from Finnish rockers Craneium “Explore the Void”.

Craneium was formed 2011 in Turku, Finland, but the roots of the members grow deep in rural Ostrobothnia, the bible-belt of Finland, further north where the are more Holy Books than Sabbath records on the shelves. Craneium formed around one goal – to write some seriously intense and fuzzy riff rock. Eager to play they immediately headed out for live shows as soon as they had penned together some tunes. Live the energetic nature of the band really comes alive and shines. When they perform they are one force with the music, which they projectile right into to the crowd at full volume. Needless to say, they always end a concert dripping in sweat with the audience mangled against a wall of fuzz.

The band released The Slowerdrive Tapes on cassette in 2013 and a 12″ split in 2014 with fellow ‘nauts 3rd Trip. 2014-15 they spent long hours recording the essence of these four years: “Explore The Void”, a 50 minute journey through fuzz rock mayhem. The bands sound is a constant ebb and flow of different influences. They go from atmospheric clean vibes that build up and build up, only to clash into fuzzy grooves. While they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel they’re giving it a hard spin with their own brand of fuzz rock!

Wrapped up in some stunning, artwork, this album creates a total sonic experience; the sort of thing that you can get utterly and beautifully lost in, as you travel beyond the valley and into the void.

Look for Craneium’s Ripple Music debut “Explore the Void” this winter on limited edition vinyl, world-wide vinyl, CD and digital.

https://www.facebook.com/craneiumband/
http://craneiumband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/craneiumband/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

Craneium, Explore the Void (2015)

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