Quarterly Review: Kal-El, The Ugly Kings, Guhts, Anunnaki, Bill Fisher, Seum, Spirit Adrift, Mutha Trucka, 3rd Ear Experience, Solarius

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Everybody come through day one intact? I know it got pretty weird there for a minute, but I felt like sense was ultimately made. Maybe not in all cases, but definitely most. Today also gets fairly wild, and some of this stuff has been covered before in some fashion and some of it not so much, but hell, you’ve been through this before, as have I, so you know what to expect when you’re expecting. Blood might be spilled. Bruises left. Or bliss. Or both sometimes. Hell’s bells. Let’s go already.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kal-El, Dark Majesty

Kal-El Dark Majesty

With their fifth full-length, Dark Majesty, Norwegian heavy rockers and sci-fi-themed cleavage aficionados Kal-El make a willful play toward the epic. Their first 2LP and their first album for Majestic Mountain Records, the eight-song offering tops 65 minutes and splits into four two-song sides, each one seeming to grow bigger until the last of them, with the closing duo “Kala Mishaa” and “Vimana,” draws the proceedings to a massive close. Along the way, Kal-El not only offer their most melodically rich and spacious fare to-date — opening with their longest track in the 11:39 “Temple” (immediate points) — but blast Kyuss into the cosmos on the four-minute “Spiral,” and give Dozer a run for their money on “Comêta.” Gargantuan fuzz shines through on “Hyperion” in a near-maddening cacophony, but it might be the title-track that’s the greatest highlight in the end, marking the band’s accomplishment in heft, blending riffs and atmosphere to a broad and engaging degree. It is a triumph and it sounds like one.

Kal-El on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records webstore


The Ugly Kings, Strange, Strange Times

The Ugly King Strange Strange Times

One would not accuse Melbourne’s The Ugly Kings of inaccuracy in titling their second album Strange, Strange Times, and though they launch with the post-Queens of the Stone Age title-track and the now-tinged cynicism of “Technodrone” and “Do You Feel Like You’re Paranoid?,” it’s in even moodier stretches like “Last Man Left Alive” they cast their lot toward individualism. Songs vary in intention but remain consistent in the quality of their construction and look-at-the-world-around-you theme, with “Lawman” leaning toward darker country blues, “Mr. Hyde” asking what would happen if Clutch and Ruff Majik ever crossed paths and the finale “Another Fucking Day” offering a deceptively immersive unfurling. I can’t help but wonder if The Ugly Kings feel surrounded in their home city by much, much druggier neo-psych acts in the heavy underground scene, but the clarity of purpose they bring to their songwriting would make them a standout one way or the other.

The Ugly Kings on Facebook

Napalm Records website


Guhts, Blood Feather

GUHTS blood feather

Atmospheric and seething in kind, Guhts brings together members of New Yorkers Witchkiss and North Carolina’s Black Mountain Hunger for a pandemic-era debut release that in style explores the restlessness and the overwhelming nature of the age. With Amber Burns (interview here) on vocals, the drums programmed behind Scott Prater and Dan Shaneyfelt guitars/synths and the bass of Jesse Van Note, and a purpose wrought in immersion, the band distinguishes itself in its apropos grimness and in the potential for future exploration of the ideas laid out here, bordering in “The Mirror” on goth only after “Handless Maiden” offers raging, post-metallic lumber. One wonders how Blood Feather will sound five years from now, but more to the point, one wonders what Guhts might conjure in the meantime when/if they press forward. Either way, expect to see this on the list of 2021’s best short releases.

Guhts on Facebook

Guhts on Bandcamp


Anunnaki, Martyr of Alexandria

annunaki martyr of alexandria

Hey there, psych fans and experts on tragedies of the classic world, British Columbia two-piece Anunnaki have the psychedelic instrumental blowout themed around the murder of Hypatia you’ve been waiting for! Never heard of Hypatia? It doesn’t matter. Samples will provide some context and if they said the whole thing was about going shoe shopping, it wouldn’t be any less righteously far out. With “Golden Gate of the Sun” at the outset, the duo of Dave Read (guitar/bass) and Arlen Thompson (drums/synth) prime a bit of space-boogie, but the subsequent “Cyril, the Fanatic” shoves the freakery to the fore with wailing guitar and drones and seemingly whatever else they thought might work and does. The 15-minute finale, “The Cries of Hypatia,” dives deeper into drone, holding back the drums for about seven minutes while obscure speech and the titular cries unfold. Read and Thompson build it to a full, suitably deathly wash, and take the time to end minimal. Literary, arthouse, but not at all stale for that.

Anunnaki on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

NoiseAgonyMayhem website


Bill Fisher, Hallucinations of a Higher Truth

Bill Fisher Hallucinations of a Higher Truth

A departure even from his departure, Church of the Cosmic Skull bandleader Bill Fisher‘s second solo offering, Hallucinations of a Higher Truth, follows the darker progressive rock of 2020’s Mass Hypnosis and the Dark Triad (review here) with 40-plus minutes of piano-led singer-songwriter fare, taking a stated influence from the lyrics-as-everyday-musings of Randy Newman on songs like “Better Than You” and “Off to Work,” while revamping his main outfit’s “Answers in Your Soul” and “Evil in Your Eye” to suit the arrangement theme. As Fisher has engaged plenty with classic forms in his work, Hallucinations of a Higher Truth feels by no means beyond his creative reach, and he’s an accomplished enough songwriter and performer to pull it off, thereby demonstrating that if you can craft a song you can make it do whatever the hell you want, and that “you” in this case is him. This isn’t going to be everybody’s thing, but Fisher carries it ably.

Bill Fisher webstore

Church of the Cosmic Skull website


Seum, Live From the Seum-Cave

Seum Live from the Seum-Cave

Montreal low-end filthmongers Seum return to follow-up earlier 2021’s Winterized EP (review here) with Live From the Seum-Cave, basking in an even rawer incarnation of their guitars-need-not-apply drum/bass/vocals attack. “Sea Sick Six” is even nastier here than it was on the last EP, and the eponymous opener “Seum” is an anthem of disaffection that finds its lyrical answer in “Life Grinder” and “Blueberry Cash” alike — the why-do-I-even-have-this-shit-job point of view as unmistakable as the throat-singing that pops up in the aforementioned “Sea Sick Six.” The trio are beastly on “Winter of Seum,” and they make a special highlight of “Super Tanker” from 2020’s Summer of Seum EP, working tempo shifts into the punishing march that are less than predictable and yet totally over the top in their extremity. This is a good band who genuinely sound like they don’t give a fuck. That’s a hard thing to make believable. I hope they never put out a record and do EPs forever.

Seum on Facebook

Seum on Bandcamp


Spirit Adrift, Forge Your Future

Spirit Adrift Forge Your Future

Spirit Adrift have broken out from the doomly mire to proffer clear-headed, soaring traditional heavy metal. The unit, led as ever by guitarist/bassist/vocalist Nate Garrett with Marcus Bryant on drums, offer three new tracks on Forge Your Future in the title-track, “Wake Up” and “Invisible Enemy,” channeling Randy Rhoads even through more denser tonality and the nodding groove of the last. Echo behind Garrett‘s vocals reminds here and there of Brian “Butch” Balich of Penance/Argus, but Spirit Adrift‘s path across four full-lengths and companion short releases like this one over the last six years has been its own, and the emergence of Garrett as a singer has been a crucial part of making these songs the concise epics they are. Crisp in craft and confident in delivery, Spirit Adrift only sound like masters of their domain here, and so they are. Heavy metal that loves heavy metal.

Spirit Adrift on Facebook

Century Media Records website


Mutha Trucka, Mutha Trucka

Mutha Trucka Mutha Trucka

The Chicago-based three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Eric Ervin, bassist/vocalist Dana “Erv” Ervin and drummer/backing vocalist Ted Sciaky plunge deep with their self-titled debut into the ’90s era of heavy rock, with vibes running between C.O.C., Monster Magnet, Clutch and Kyuss, among others, but there’s a might-throw-elbows spirit that comes through even in willfully spacious pieces like “I’m Free” (some Lemmy influence there too) and “Wizards & Gods” that adds aggro spirit to the bulk of the nine-song/39-minute affair, a piece like “D.B. Blues” — which stands for “Dirty Bitch Blues” — as unpretentious in its overarching style as it is politically incorrect. “Fogginess” hits near eight minutes and moves toward the trippier end of grunge, with one of the outing’s many layered solos playing out amid the solid groove beneath, the band refusing to compromise their abiding lack of pretense even in the face of that which would otherwise be psychedelic. Not much time for that nonsense — there’s crunch to be had.

Mutha Trucka on Facebook

Mutha Trucka on Bandcamp


3rd Ear Experience, Danny Frankel’s 3rd Ear Experience

3rd Ear Experience Danny Frankels 3rd Ear Experience

Who’s Danny Frankel? Long story short, he was Lou Reed‘s drummer, but in fact he’s got a session-player career that’s found him performing with a staggering array of artists and bands. He puts his stamp on his very own 3rd Ear Experience alongside the group’s founding guitarist Robbi Robb as well as a host of others including fellow founder AmritaKripa, synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller and more besides. The resulting journey is six tracks and 63 minutes of psychedelic gloryscaping, desert-born but galaxy-bred, with longform works like “What Are Their Names” (18:18), “Weep No More, My Friend” (14:49) and closer “Timelessness Pt. 2” (12:03) expanding across exploratory and fluid movements offset by shorter stretches like the suitably percussive “Cosmos Glazed Elephant.” In opener “A Beautiful Questions,” the drums hardly feature, but the lead-in for “What Are Their Names” feels no less intentional than when the penultimate “Timelessness Pt. 1” gives way to silence ahead of the beginning of the finale. I’d say more, but I seem to have lost my train of hyperbole-laden praise. Wonderfully so.

3rd Ear Experience on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website


Solarius, Universal Trial

solarius universal trial

Originally recorded in 2006, Solarius‘s heretofore unreleased four-song EP, Universal Trial, is notable for predating the self-titled Graveyard album, as guitarist/vocalist Jonatan Ramm would end up joining that band in 2008, seeming after Solarius dissolved. The 21-minute release arrives now with the considerable backing of Heavy Psych Sounds in no small part because of that nifty bit of context, and the classic-style boogie wrought in “Sky of Mine” is enough to make it a prescient-feeling footnote in the storied history of Swedish retroism, let alone the brooding-into-surging, organ-laced “Into the Sun,” which if it was issued by a new band this week would be an excuse unto itself for Bandcamp Friday. Wrapped in the shuffling title-track at the start and the harmonized, patiently-drawn “Mother Nature Mind” at the end, Universal Trial feels like a lesson in the essential role of producer Don Alsterberg (Graveyard, Blues Pills, Spiders, etc.) in defining the style as well as in what might’ve been if Solarius had put this out at the time.

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


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Kal-El Announce Dark Majesty out Aug. 27; Stream Title-Track

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Can’t say you weren’t warned. When Norwegian riffers Kal-El signed to Majestic Mountain Records last May, that news came coupled with the announcement that the band’s next album, Dark Majesty, would be out this year. Kudos to the band on keeping their promises. The first single from the record is its title-track and it’s an eight-minute lumbering beast of tonal largesse and spaciousness, vocals echoing likewise cosmic and cavernous over readily familiar nod that’s Sabbath in its root but reaching outward in its own direction as the band has developed over their now-four long-players.

Preorders, of course, are up.

The video for “Dark Majesty” brings classic sci-fi alien invasion and that’s a lot of fun, but the highlight is the song itself, which is impeccably mixed and hooky in kind. You’ll find it streaming at the bottom of this post.

Info came from Majestic Mountain:


KAL-EL – Dark Majesty – Aug. 27, 2021

Originally formed in 2012, Kal-El’s star has been firmly in the ascension since the release of three highly sought-after albums; Pakal(2012), Astrodoomeda(2017) and 2020’s critically acclaimed, Witches of Mars.

Signed to Sweden’s rising underground rock institution, Majestic Mountain Records, the Norwegian fuzz-finders are finally poised to release their heaviest and most complex record to date this August with the scheduled arrival of new album, Dark Majesty.

“It’s been quite a journey to get to this point,” explains Kal-El’s vocalist, Captain. “We’ve listened to the record fully mastered; we’ve seen the artwork come together, now all we want is for the fans to sink their teeth into it. We’re proud oft his record. This is something we’ve forged from interstellar witchcraft and it’s ready to collect your souls.

”As a brace of mass-shifting singles(‘Spiral’ and‘Comêta’) have already showcased, the band’s glorious universe of sound is comprised of bass-heavy grooves, detuned guitars, and mind-warping lyrics. And with Dark Majesty we’re invited to witness the adventures of five rocketeers packing an entire career’s worth of ideas and sonic echoes into one, stellar mission. A mission to soundtrack the collision of passing worlds.

Dark Majesty, the brand-new LP by Kal-El will be released on 27th August 2021 on Majestic Mountain Records!

-Gatefold. 10mm spine.
– 2xLP 180g heavyweight vinyl
– 2x Black polylined inner sleeve
– Glow-in-the-dark vinyl
– 1x band poster. SIGNED BY THE BAND!
– Slipmat with Kal-El insignia!
Strictly Limited to 50 signed posters/copies!

– Gatefold. 10mm spine.
– 2xLP 180g heavyweight vinyl
– 2x Black polylined inner sleeve
– Glow-in-the-dark vinyl!
– Slipmat with Kal-El insignia!
Strictly Limited to 150 copies!

– Gatefold. 10mm spine.
– 2xLP 180g heavyweight vinyl
– 2x Black polylined inner sleeve
– Black/orange swirl vinyl
Limited to 300 copies! (Will also be available thru distro)

– Gatefold. 10mm spine.
– 2xLP 180g heavyweight vinyl
– 2x Black polylined inner sleeve
– Black/red pinwheel vinyl
Limited to 300 copies!

– 2xLP 180g heavyweight vinyl
– 2x Black polylined inner sleeve
– Hand numbered and with alternative artwork ny Negative Cryptart!
– 10 of 20 on sale.
Ships immediately if not ordered with any other pre-order.

Dark Majesty
Kala Misha

Kal-El is:
Captain – Vocals
Josh – Guitar
Doffy – Guitar
Bjudas – Drums
Johnsen – Bass

Produced by Kal-El
Recorded in Studio Valhalla 2020
Engineered by Ragge
Mixed by mastered by Ruben Willem
Front Artwork by Steven Yoyada
Design, logo and layout by ShaneHorror


Kal-El, “Dark Majesty” official video

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Days of Rona: Captain and Bjudas of Kal-El

Posted in Features on May 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan


Days of Rona: Captain and Bjudas (Stavenger, Norway)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Captain: As all live shows got cancelled, we started writing new material, and has been busy with studio. Released a single and signed to a new label, Majestic Mountain Records. The writing process has been quite fun this time around as everyone has chipped in with ideas and arrangements. Even the dull process of recording was fun due to the fact that the eagerness and willingness to make music is back ? My day job has pretty much been going as usual, but of course the shadow of a pandemic and the seriousness of the impact on society has been in my mind since the outbreak.

My parents are of age, with my father in the “target group,” so of course it is something that lurks there all the time. I got friends struggle with their business due to decrease in income, and the city I live in has been like a ghost town for several months now. They just opened up so we can visit bars again, with heavy restrictions of not being to close to others. Not easy on bars, but somehow it seems to work in an odd way. A third of the normal crowd is allowed in, so it’s strange indeed. As mentioned earlier, all the live shows we had booked, was cancelled, so we went into the rehearse room and started writing. We have a ton of different ideas and riffs just sitting there, so it was pretty good to just work on those.

Bjudas: It is safe to say that the covid-19 epidemic has set some major drawbacks. But as a band, we have adapted quickly. So instead of sitting around and waiting for this thing to go away. We decided that we wanted to record a new album. Sins we found out that we had a big bag of riffs laying around. We had enough stuff to make a whole album. So, the creativity has exploded in our case.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Captain: At some level it could seem like overkill in how everything just got locked down. People started to behave different, and it seemed like doomsday in many aspects. To see businesses, lifeworks, just get shattered, millions of people in isolation, deaths by the thousands and an immense suffering due to an invisible enemy was pretty shocking to experience and understood the hard actions taken by the different governments more seriously.

Bjudas: The public response has been ok. And we have managed to control the virus pretty good. Regarding the government, I feel they have responded in a professional manner. And have provided the needed founding for the main population. We have a very good welfare system (compared to other countries). And people got their money in full.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

Captain: Personally it’s been challenging to see people being on the brink of collapse due to their jobs just cease to exist. No income, no hopes at all, just darkness as businesses just vanish in thin air more or less overnight. Bars, small specialty shops, venues, festivals and the likes by the millions have been affected. We may never get back to the so called normal ever again, but hopefully we will get back to a similar way of life as time goes by.

Bjudas: The music community along with the rest of service-related occupations has had the biggest blow in these crises. With band not able to do gigs and have no steady income. Bands are struggling to make ends meet. In my case, I get more determined in cases like this. What can we do to stay active? How can we still be able to be productive and feel that we are a band? And not a sunken ship? So, I`m not bored, there is a lot to do still.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

Captain: Never to give up, we are born into this challenge called life, and there are always mountains to climb. We didn’t get this far by giving up by overwhelming odds, and we will not give up this time either.
As for the band; we are still alive, and we will continue to make music and do shows for a long time to come!

Bjudas: I have learned that you should not eat a bat. That is for Ozzy to do… I think that we are very adaptable, as I have said earlier. Not giving up is a big thing. The new normal I can say, is this distancing thing. I take myself in not staying to close to people. And I think this will stay with us for a while.


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Kal-El Sign to Majestic Mountain Records; Dark Majesty Due Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

It makes sense for where we’re at as a species that Kal-El might announce their new album, Dark Majesty, at least half a year in advance of it actually coming out. The Norwegian bruisers have inked a deal to issue the long-player through Majestic Mountain Records — whose building pedigree you can see below — and though Kal-El aren’t giving too much away in terms of info as yet, they do have a new single streaming in the form of “Comêta” on their Bandcamp, and that finds their aggressive take on riff-led groovery well in place from where they left off.

The future, you say? Something to look forward to, then.

To the PR wire:


MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN RECORDS to release new album by Norwegian fuzz rock-finders, KAL-EL | Listen to their new single ‘COMÊTA’ now!

Dark Majesty, the brand-new LP by the rising hard rock quintet is due for release in 2021

Majestic Mountain Records, one of Sweden’s most exciting underground labels and home to the likes of Devil’s Witches, Saint Karloff and The King’s Pistol are psyched to announce the conscription of one of Norway’s rising hard rock prospects.

Originally formed in 2012, Kal-El’s star has been firmly in the ascension for some time following a progression of impressive and highly sought-after releases on labels such as Setalight and Argonauta. With three albums already to their name – 2012’s Pakal, Astrodoomeda (2017) and last year’s critically acclaimed, Witches of Mars – the band are set to release new album Dark Majesty in 2021.

“As supporters of heavy riffs, we’ve been huge fans of the band for a number of years now,” explains MMR’s Marco Berg. “We’re stoked at the label to welcome them aboard and keen to help the band pilot their fuzz-powered space tunes directly to you!”

As new single ‘Comêta’ showcases, the band’s glorious universe of sound comprises of bass-heavy grooves, detuned guitars and mind-warping lyrics, and like a wayward son of hard rock and heavy metal, the quintet have spent a lot of time on the road over the years, touring extensively across Europe.

“With our journey now embarking on new and uncharted realms, we are pleased to announce that we’re joined by our fellow Scandinavians,” explains Kal-El’s vocalist, Captain. “We have been received with the outmost respect, and we look forward to delivering some amazing musical experiences on this label. We do not take the trust here shown us for granted, and we are proud and honoured to be a part of the Majestic Mountain Records family.”

Dark Majesty, the brand-new LP by Kal-El is due for release in 2021 on Majestic Mountain Records.

Stream new single ‘Comêta’ by Kal-EL here – https://kal-el.bandcamp.com/track/com-ta

Captain – Vocals
Doffy – Guitars
Josh – Guitars
Uncle J – Bass
Bjudas – Drums


Kal-El, “Comêta”

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