Surfing couches, in and out of venues and hostels, drinking, taking in the sights of different places, driving, flying, being here and there and all over the place, seeing different people and cultural spaces, and of course, playing shows — Drone Hunter‘s new video only lasts about five minutes, but that seems to be long enough for it to encapsulate what I imagine was at least a good part of their experience on their 2016 tour. Actually, this is probably just scratching the surface, but as a broad overview, the clip matches the charm of the song title “Wine Dick” with footage of the Croatian instrumental trio on the road and it looks like they’re having a good time. Nobody shows the slog in these videos — the sitting around waiting to play, the traffic, the meals at gas stations — but as a representation of the fun they had, it’s genuinely enjoyable to watch. Vacation video. Plus riffs!
As it happens, “Wine Dick” isn’t short on the latter. Coming off the three-piece’s 2016 second album, Welcome to the Hole (review here), the track doesn’t have vocals as noted, and Drone Hunter keep the proceedings pretty straightforward in the Karma to Burn be-as-bullshit-free-as-possible tradition, but while the band jumps around between Slovenia, the Czech Republic, France, Malta, etc. — Malta looks fucking incredible — they set up a hook just the same around which the track nails down the punch of its verse. In that, it represents the album well, which keeps to similar methods while varying somewhat the level of aggression in Drone Hunter‘s delivery. Are they getting back on the road this year in Eastern Europe or beyond? I’d imagine so but haven’t heard anything as yet. When and if I do, I’ll of course let you know.
In the meantime, I’m happy to host the premiere of the “Wine Dick” video below. The band had a quick explanation of its making and origins and you’ll find that under the player, as well as the link to their Bandcamp, where of course Welcome to the Hole is streaming in full.
Drone Hunter, “Wine Dick” official video
We proudly present to you our tour video for ‘Wine Dick’. The footage was filmed throughout the year 2016 and covers our tours and journeys in Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Malta.
The whole thing was filmed and edited by ourselves in a completely DIY fashion and we’re extremely glad to share it with¨all of you. ENJOY!
I know, I know. It’s the future. These kinds of things aren’t necessarily a big deal at this point. They happen all the time. Nonetheless, a sub-two-week turnaround from show to fully-edited multi-camera video document of that same show is pretty impressive whatever time you’re living in. Especially with the holidays in there. You ever try to get anything done over the holidays? Of course you didn’t.
Drone Hunter did. The Croatian heavy noise rockers rounded out 2016 with the Dec. 17 release show for their second album, Welcome to the Hole (review here), and by Dec. 28, the clip below for “Fog Horn” was done and ready to roll. I’m sorry, but even in a world of digital editing that’s quick. And it doesn’t at all look half-assed. In fact, the show looks like it was a really good time, and no doubt that’s precisely what the Varazdin three-piece were hoping to convey.
Starts and ends with some crowd noise and views, and it would seem the house was packed at the Caffe Bar Elephant, where the clip was filmed. From start to finish of the song itself, the hometown three-piece give Welcome to the Hole solid representation with “Fog Horn,” the track offering Karma to Burn-style straightforwardness of intent with an aggressive edge that comes across as just a bit meaner on the whole. Front to back, the record plays around with that spirit somewhat, but “Fog Horn” tells much of the story, and the video does accordingly — cool gig, maximum volume, heavy riffs. Nothing wrong with that.
Enjoy “Fog Horn” below, followed by credits and links:
Drone Hunter, “Fog Horn” official live video
We proudly present our official live video for ‘Fog Horn’ off our new album ‘Welcome To The Hole’ filmed at our hometown release show at Caffe Bar Elephant in Varaždin, Croatia on Dec 17th 2016.
Directed, filmed and edited by Igor ‘Meister’ Male?i? of Meisterwerk Productions, Zagreb, Croatia. Additional footage filmed by Jurica Galekovi? of Dakkar Pictures, Varaždin, Croatia.
All music written, produced and performed by Drone Hunter. Available on Bandcamp, CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon or at our shows, both digital and physical.
We appreciate all the friends, fans, promoters, hosts and everyone who is involved with Drone Hunter in any way. You guys make this ride even more fun and rewarding than the music itself!
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Red Fang, Only Ghosts
Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.
After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.
A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.
Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.
Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.
Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.
To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.
Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.
Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.
After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Meanwhile, in Croatia, crunch-riffing instrumental trio Drone Hunter get ready to play the release gigs for their second album, Welcome to the Hole. A self-release, it follows their 2013 self-titled debut and was posted for streaming on Nov. 15 ahead of the physical version, which will see its official arrival on Dec. 3 in Malta and Dec. 17 with the hometown gig in Varazdin. The three-piece have plans for European touring and video-making in Spring 2017 but will take some time off after celebrating the new outing as they round out the year. Fair enough. From where I sit, once you make a song called “Wine Dick,” you can pretty much take the rest of the year off, particularly if health issues are a concern. Paid leave for all.
Info came down the PR wire:
DRONE HUNTER (CRO) – new album, Welcome to the Hole
DRONE HUNTER have been around since spring of 2012. and have since released a self titled debut album in 2013. and have had about a hundred shows and two European tours in Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This summer we recorded a brand new album called ”Welcome To The Hole” which we self released and is available on Bandcamp, YouTube, CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon. The album contains 8 new songs and was recorded and mixed at E-Minor Studio in Varazdin, Croatia by Tomislav ‘Tompa’ Novosel which also happens to be our practice space. With all that, the artwork for the album contains photos of the building since it was written, recorded and mixed there.
Mastering was done by Igor ‘Meister’ Male?i? of Meisterwerk Productions in Zagreb, Croatia.
The album was produced by Drone Hunter and the cover, photos and design were done by Drone Hunter with the help of graphic wizard Antonio Mohenski a.k.a. MHNSK from Varazdin, Croatia.
What’s next on the Drone Hunter calendar is a live release show in Zurrieq, Malta on Dec 3rd where we were invited by Silver Tongue booking agency and then a hometown release show on Dec 17th in Varazdin at Elephant Bar. After that we will make a short break due to medical issues, and in that time we will make a live video and a tour video similar to the one for Twisted Horse Boogie from the first album. Also, we have another Euro tour planned for April 2017.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
Issued via cooperation between PDV Records and Setalight Records, Croatian heavy rockers Stonebride‘s third album, Heavy Envelope (review here), is out now on vinyl. Not technically a reissue since it’s the first pressing in the format, the album is a moody but progressive take on bruiser riffing, and offers more on repeat visits than it might the first time around. All the better that it’s up now for revisiting by anyone who missed it. You’d almost swear these things were planned out ahead of time.
Stonebride had posted in Aug. about planning out a European tour for March/April 2016, so when and if I hear more on that, I’ll post accordingly. Until then, the PR wire sent along the following on the album:
Stonebride’s ”Heavy Envelope” vinyl release!
It is a huge pleasure to announce that the sons of all things heavy , the band Stonebride have just released their latest critically acclaimed album Heavy Envelope in vinyl format! From now on you can treat your record player with two LP album versions (black & halloween orange edition). At the end of 2014. the band unleashed upon the world its’ 4th official release in CD/digital format. This came out via joint efforts from an independent label PDV records and Setalight records.
After a European tour last year, including some selected shows this year, Stonebride is ready for further conquering of all hearing senses. Their take on heavy rock, tied with alternative / psych / doom / prog voyages leaves none without awe. European tour for March/April 2016. is being booked at this moment, so keep an eye out when they roam through your city.
It’s also worth mentioning that in December band celebrates a 10th year jubilee of existing, sonic road bending, creating music and leaving their own mark in the oceans of the most finest art we call music.
Tracklist: 1 Movies, Movies 2 Lowest Supreme 3 Lay Low 4 Coloured Blue 5 Sokushinbutsu 6 Venomous
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
Dutch heavy rockers The Machine and Croatian krautrock specialists Seven that Spells are teaming up to hit the road in November. The shows are only in Germany and Switzerland, so it’s not exactly full-coverage even as regards Western Europe, but it’s a week of dates anyway and better than nothing. Jeez, what’s the worst that happens, you fly to Germany and see a show? Live with it.
The Machine will be out supporting earlier-2015’s Offblast! (review here), their fifth outing and most accomplished work to-date, while Seven that Spells hit the road on the heels of a Sulatron Records reissue of their 2012 album, Superautobahn, their most recent studio release being last year’s The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: IO (review here), the second installment of a to-be-concluded trilogy.
Tour is presented by Sound of Liberation and info is as follows:
When We Switch Our Amps On The Cities Go Dark Tour (THE MACHINE & SEVEN THAT SPELLS)
The Machine & Seven That Spells will be touring Germany (ok and Switzerland) for one week in November 2015.
ROCK AND ROLL 13.11 : Kulturbahnhof Jena // Jena GER 14.11 : Feierwerk // München GER 15.11 : Sedel Garage Luzern // Luzern CH 16.11 : Immerhin Würzburg // Würzburg GER 17.11 : Bassy Club // Berlin GER 18.11 : Kulturzentrum Faust // Hannover GER
SEVEN THAT SPELLS: Beyond. We are the dogs of the western Jazz society looking for dope. Modern, aggressive psychedelic wall of sound incorporating polymetrics and occasional Viking funeral rites; hailing from the 23rd century where rock is dead, Seven That Spells returned in time where its still possible to change the tragic course of the boring history.
THE MACHINE: THE MACHINE is a rock band from the Rotterdam area (NL). Through the years the band has been crafting its own (loud) brand of both hard-hitting tracks and instrumental takeoffs. Rooted in heavy rock, THE MACHINE refuses to be pigeonholed and prefers a modern experimental approach to the well known concepts of yesteryear.
Posted in Radio on February 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
I have continued to enjoy putting together these posts, and hopefully, whether you listen to The Obelisk Radio or you don’t, you get some use out of them. The fact is that it’s a pretty overwhelming amount of music being released these days — I feel like I’ve been behind all week, and for good reason — but it’s a good problem to have, and all you can really do is your best to keep up as much as you can. Accordingly, some of the stuff joining the playlist this week isn’t out yet, some is newly released and some of it has been out for a long time. Months are irrelevant. Riffs are timeless.
Let’s get to it.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 6, 2015:
UK heavy proggers Hark — also stylized in all-caps and with spaces between the letters — have all the noodly twists and turns one might expect in the shouty post-Mastodonic sphere of modern heavy, but what the trio do even better is use those turns toward building crescendos, so that songs like “Palendromeda,” the opener from their 2014 Season of Mist debut, Crystalline, isn’t just a mash of technical indulgence, but it actually moves somewhere too. Later cuts like “Sins on Sleeves” and “All Wretch and No Vomit” have some straightforward heavy rock to them as well —guitarist/vocalist/cover artist Jimbob Isaac used to play in Taint — but as one might expect, neither he nor bassist Nikolai Ribnikov (who seems to have since been replaced by Joe Harvatt, unless I have that backwards; things like who plays on what don’t matter in the age of digital promos) and drummer Simon Bonwick stay in one place too long. A guest appearance from Clutch‘s Neil Fallon on 10-minute closer “Clear Light of…” follows some particularly fervent tapping and presages another in Crystalline‘s series of crescendos, a long fade following topped by heady swirl that finishes out. Parts can be a bit much, but the full-on sprint that starts “Breathe and Run” and the weighty groove that follows make Hark‘s debut a solid fit for those seeking blinding fretwork that doesn’t necessarily sacrifice dynamic on the altar of technicality. HARK on Thee Facebooks, Season of Mist.
Born out of last year’s hot-shit-and-then-gone The Oath, London/Berlin four-piece Lucifer make their Rise Above debut with the Anubis/Morning Star 7″, vocalist Johanna Sadonis crooning out vaguely devilish incantations over The Wizards‘ riffs, Dino Gollnick‘s bass and Andrew Prestidge drums. The results on “Anubis” are probably the most Sabbathian bit of Sabbathery that’s come along since Orchid wandered along — the progression of “Anubis” is almost singularly indebted to “Snowblind.” “Morning Star” is likewise familiar, nestled somewhere between a theatrical take on ’80s proto-doom and ’70s cultistry and bolstered by the craft of Sadonis and former Cathedral guitarist Gary “Gaz” Jennigs. Hey, if it works, fair enough. One imagines that by the time the single arrives in April, word of Lucifer‘s coming will have spread far and wide, and if the single is meant to intrigue and pique interest ahead of a full-length to be issued later in 2015, I’ve no doubt it will do precisely that. Lucifer on Thee Facebooks, Rise Above Records.
Diesel King, Concrete Burial
If you’ve got a quota for burl, London sludge metallers Diesel King will likely meet it with their When Planets Collide debut long-player, Concrete Burial, an album that hands out grueling, ultra-dudely chugging like a beefed-up Crowbar, vocalist Mark O’Regan offering shouting and growling extremity bordering at times on death metal. Shit is heavy, and it lives up to the violent threat of its title on songs like the catchy “Inferis” and “Horror. Disgust.,” the latter of which actually manages to make the lumbering guitar tones of Geoff Foden and Aled Marc move, propelled by the metallic drumming of Bill Jacobs while bassist Will Wichanski adds to the already pummeling low end. The 80-second “Mask of the Leper” is straight-up grind, but don’t be fooled by shifts in tempo — Diesel King‘s bread and butter is in sludged-out chug-riffing and growled chestbeating, like a testosterone supplement you take via your ears. Diesel King on Thee Facebooks, When Planets Collide.
Planes of Satori, Planes of Satori
Made for vinyl and pressed in that manner by Who Can You Trust? Records as the follow-up to last year’s Son of a Gun 7″ (review here), Planes of Satori find easy sanctuary on uneasy ground, smoothing out jagged edges and uncautious twists on their self-titled debut full-length. Bassist Justin Pinkerton doubles as the drummer in Golden Void, but though Planes of Satori share a West Coast affinity for the golden age of krautrock, cuts like “Eyes,” “Gnostic Boogie” and “The Ballad of Queen Milo” are on a much different trip, psychedelic afrobeat rhythms unfolding their insistence under the echoed out vocals of Alejandro Magana while Raze Regal tears into jazzy solos and Chris Labreche somehow manages to make it swing. The airier, more rhythmically settled “KTZ” retains a progressive feel both in the underlying tension of its bassline and in the open, creative vibe through which it careens. Call it “manic peace,” but it works well for Planes of Satori on a cut like the earlier “If You Must Know,” which reimagines ’90s indie weirdness through a lens of what-if-it-wasn’t-so-cool-not-to-give-a-crap, and “Green Summer,” which follows a building course without tipping off its hand until you’re already wrapped up in Regal‘s live-sounding leads. The closing solo guitar echo of “The Snake and the Squirrel” speaks to yet-unexplored drone dynamics and further delving into psychedelia to come. Sign me up. I have the feeling that the more bizarre Planes of Satori get, the more satisfying the trip is going to be. Their debut already shows a pervasive adventurous spirit. Planes of Satori on Thee Facebooks, Who Can You Trust? Records.
Stonebride, Heavy Envelope
Late 2014’s Heavy Envelope is the third Stonebride record behind 2010’s Summon the Waves (review here) and their 2008 debut LP, Inner Seasons. Released by Setalight Records, it finds the Zagreb, Croatia, four-piece’s sound way solidified as compared to the psychedelic sprawl of the prior release, a ’90s-style rolling crunch riff to “Lay Low” following the distinctly Alice in Chainsian vocal melodies of “Lowest Supreme” and preceding the effectively replicated Queens of the Stone Age bounce of “Coloured Blue.” Some intervening solidification in the four years between the second and third albums might explain the shift in sound — the opposite could also be true — but drummer Steps and guitarist Tjesimir, bassist Alen and vocalist Sinisawork well within their newfound sphere, even finding room to branch out a bit on the more extended closing duo of “Sokushinbutsu” and “Venomous,” never quite hitting the same psyched-out feel of Heavy Envelope‘s predecessor, but definitely adding further individual sensibility to an engaging take on heavy rock. Stonebride seem ripe for a new beginning, and Heavy Envelope boasts precisely that kind of energy. Stonebride on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Setalight Records.
For the complete list of what went up today and everything else that’s been added recently and everything played going back I don’t even remember how long at this point, be sure to check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page. Hope you find something you dig and that you think is worth hearing.
Posted in Reviews on January 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan
I thought last night about changing the name of this feature to “First Licks 2015,” but on further reflection, that’s just too much licking. It’s bad enough as it is. All the same, Happy New Year to you and yours, wherever you and they may be. I hope in 2015, your reviews pile never gets so backed up that you think about doing something so absolutely insane as tackling them all at once to wipe the slate clean. Then again, being completely inundated with music has its upsides. The music, for one.
We press on today with the fourth installment in the “Last Licks 2014” series. These are reviews 31-40. I passed the halfway point yesterday with barely so much as an inward breath to appreciate the moment, and I can only hope the pile of discs before me goes so smoothly. I’ll let you know when I get there. Until then, no need to dally, let’s get underway with the first reviews of 2015.
Thanks for reading:
Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io
Reportedly second in a series of three albums from Croatian heavy psych rockers Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io follows a first installment subtitled Aum released in 2011 and brings forth heady, mostly instrumental progressions of extended runtimes and a satisfying blend of weighted tones and stylistic clarity. The three-piece who released their first album in 2003 alternate between three shorter pieces and two longer ones across the 47-minute Sulatron Records outing’s five tracks, and while I’m not entirely sure what is the narrative that’s taking place across them, there’s definitely a plotted course and concept at work behind the material – it does not come across as haphazard in any way. When they arrive, vocals do so as chants coinciding with sweeping passages, as on “Burning Blood,” the culmination of which is worthy of being the apex of a trilogy in progress. Io takes the off-the-cuff authenticity in heavy psych and gives it direction and purpose beyond simply being. No small feat, no small results.
Some metal isn’t doom, some doom isn’t metal, but Texas trio Elliott’s Keep play doom metal, and make no mistake. Their third long-player, Nascentes Morimur, comes after 2008’s In Medias Res (review here) and 2010’s Sine Qua Non (review here), and like them, it was produced and mixed by J.T. Longoria, so that their darkened, metallic chugging is presented with a crisp bite. The three-piece of Kenneth Greene (bass/vocals), Jonathan Bates (guitar) and Joel Bates (drums) toy with the balance between death and doom effectively across Nascentes Morimur’s nine tracks, making highlights of early moments like the double-kick-laden “Now Taken” and the chorus of the proceeding “Days of Hell.” Later cuts like “Tale of Grief” and “Omen” follow suit, with Jonathan riffing out classic metal vibes while Greene switches between clean singing and a rasping, almost black metal in places, scream. Their command never wavers, though, and while there have never been many frills about their approach, Elliott’s Keep have come to offer a fist-pumpingly heavy, sharp-edged push.
Bluesy Minneapolis double-guitar four-piece The Lone Crows show an affinity for classic rock stylization on their World in Sound second full-length, Dark Clouds. Produced modern, with lead guitar front and center, there’s more rock to Dark Clouds than heavy rock, but the vocal style of guitarist Tim Barbeau – joined in the band by guitarist Julian Manzara, bassist Andy Battcher and drummer Joe Goff – has some ‘90s inflection to it, and every now and then they get into a bit of bounce, as on the title-track and “The Dragon.” The penultimate “Midnight Show” would seem like the peak of the album, and sure enough it has one of its best hooks, but the recording doesn’t allow for the same push one imagines the material would carry live, and the quiet ending of “On that Day” feels flat compared to some of The Lone Crows’ bluesy peers. I chalk it up to the difference between blues rock and heavy rock and my own expectations, rather than some fault in the band.
I’m not sure if it would be appropriate to call Krautzone an offshoot of Zone Six, of which all four members – guitarist Rainer Neeff, synth-providers Modulfix and Sula Bassana, and percussionist Komet Lulu (the latter two also of Electric Moon) – take part, plus bassist Onkel Kaktus, but either way, the sound is nebulous, brilliantly textured for a meditative, slow-motion churn, and utterly engrossing. Their Sulatron debut, Kosmiche Rituale, is comprised of three lengthy explorations, tones washing in and out of each, smoothly offset by Neeff’s flight-taken guitar, minimal but earthy percussion and an improvised sensibility. “Liebe” (12:46) and “Kosmiche Rituale” (9:09) comprise side A and “Only Fools Rush In” (20:41) consumes side B entirely, a wash of synth and cymbals announcing its arrival as it sets about unfolding its long course, every bit living up to the album’s title in the process. Krautzone also released a split with Lamp of the Universe in 2014 (review here), but on their own, they shine with the chance to really stretch out.
Italian instrumentalists L’Ira del Baccano make their full-length debut with the lushly conceived Terra 42, a six-track, 57-minute outing that works in three overarching “phases.” The first of them includes tracks one through three and is dubbed “The Infinite Improbability Drive,” and it makes up more than half the album’s runtime, the first, 13-minute part standing alone while the two subsequent nine-minute stretches feed one directly into the next in a psychedelic wash of open guitar building to a raucous heavy rock finish. Phase II, “Sussurri… Nel Bosco di Diana” is the next two cuts, and moves smoothly from a Yawning Man-style jam to more riff-based thickness. The longest individual part, Phase III, is the 14-minute “Volcano X13,” track six, on which the band move fluidly through their heavy psych and rock impulses, synth and guitar intertwining well as L’Ira del Baccano affirm their more-than-burgeoning stylistic breadth. It’s an interesting, somewhat familiar blend, but they put it to good use on Terra 42 and engage with the spaciousness created.
Reactivated Montreal noisemakers Lae enlisted the help of their producer, Today is the Day’s Steve Austin, in handling lead vocals for their debut, Break the Clasp, which is a move fitting for their anti-genre approach to noise, drone, doom, post-everything, and so on. A Battleground Records/The Compound release, Break the Clasp reworks unheard material from Lae’s original run in the mid-‘90s – an album that never came out, essentially – but the vitality in the 13 tracks (yes, even the crushingly slow ones) is fresh to the point of its newness, and even the parts meant to be abrasive, opener “Sexy Sadie” or pieces of “17 Queen,” for example, hold onto a wonderful depth the mix and a feeling of texture that feeds Break the Clasp’s otherworldly spirit and brings you along its path of consuming strangeness. Austin is a presence, but by no means the star, and the whole band Lae shines across Break the Clasp’s fascinating span. A debut no one knew they were awaiting, but they were.
Psychedelia implying such a colorful sound, and black metal implying essentially the absence of that color, the two have rarely been paired well, but Finnish four-piece Atomikylä display a resounding space on their five-song debut full-length, Erkale (released by Future Lunch), and they’re not through the 13-minute opener, “Aluaineet,” before I think they might have mastered the balance between effects wash, unmitigated thrust and far-back screaming that most others have left too far to one side or the other. The four-piece with a lineup half from Oranssi Pazuzu and half from Dark Buddha Rising don’t stay in one place stylistically – the title-track has an almost krautrock feel, while the subsequent “Ihmiskallo” is more resolved to doom – but they keep a consistency of blinding bleakness to Erkale that results in a decidedly individualized feel throughout the 48 minutes. Droning and jazzy guitar experimentalism prevails in “Who Goes There,” and 10-minute closer “Musta Kulta” both broadens the atmosphere and underscores Atomikylä’s vicious stylistic triumph, capping Erkale with a mash of squibblies and screams, effects and distortion that’s so filthy it can’t help but be beautiful.
Freiburg, Germany, trio Deaf Proof – guitarist/vocalist J. Fredo, bassist JP and drummer Pedro – released their first demo in 2013, but the three-song/34-minute EP (it’s more like an album, but I won’t argue) Death Sounds Angry is a decidedly more assured, professional affair. The vibe is loose and, in the reaches of 18-minute middle cut “Origin of Pain,” jammy, but the three-piece still seem to have some idea of where they want their material to go, even as they feel their way toward those ends. A Colour Haze influence? Maybe, but less than one might think given the current climate of European heavy psych. JP’s bass has a tendency toward darker undertones, and when they hit the payoffs for “Death Sounds Angry and Hungry for More,” “Origin of Pain” and “The Sense,” they reveal themselves to be in search of something heavier and less peaceful. J. Fredo’s vocals are a little forward in the mix, but Death Sounds Angry still offers plenty to chew on for the converted.
Progressive, mostly instrumental and hypnotic, Zagreb, Croatia, trio Jastreb released their self-titled debut as a single 36-minute song in 2012, and the follow-up, Mother Europe (on HauRucK), is no less ambitious. Vocals appear here and there, both from the core three-piece and a guest spot, but the heart of what Jastreb do is rooted in their ability to craft movements that pull listeners in without falling into lulls of unconsciousness – to wit, the repetitions of “The Black Mountain” seem still but are constantly building and moving forward – as well as in arrangement flourishes like synth, Hammond, sitar and violin among the shades of post-metal in “Haemmer” or the bleary, drone-backed opener “North,” which comes companioned by the subtle churn of “South” to end the album. Not necessarily psychedelic in a loose or jammy sense, but immersive, and purposeful in its variety; the sitar and guest vocals on “The Silver Spire” arrive just at the moment when one thinks they might have heard it all. Could say the same of the record itself, I suppose.
Passage of Gaia is the sixth album from progressive melo-doomers Arctic Sleep. A four-piece from Milwaukee including bassist/drummer/cellist/vocalist Keith D, guitarist Mike Gussis and vocalist Emily Jancetic (John Gleisner plays drums live), one is reminded both of the Floydian consciousness of mid-period Anathema (my go-to comparison point for this kind of stuff, admittedly) and the drama in Katatonia and some of Novembers Doom’s clean sections, but ultimately, Arctic Sleep emerge from the eight-track/54-minute DIY long-player with their own personality, measured out in the careful vocal collaboration between Keith D and Jancetic, songs like “Terra Vindicta,” “Green Dragon” and “Passage of Gaia,” and the varied structures between the more rocking “Terra Vindicta” and the build of “Solar Lament.” Through it all, nothing’s out of balance, and Arctic Sleep execute Passage of Gaia with the poise demanded by the style and the fact that it’s their sixth album, accomplishment suiting them as well as the melancholy of closer “Destroy the Urn,” which almost loses its restraint at the end. Almost.