Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

Kungens Man on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records webstore

 

PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

PFUND on Thee Facebooks

PFUND on Bandcamp

 

Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

Crystal Spiders on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Spiders on Bandcamp

 

The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

The Misery Men on Thee Facebooks

The Misery Men on Bandcamp

 

Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

Hubris on Thee Facebooks

Hubris on Bandcamp

 

Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

WOORMS on Thee Facebooks

WOORMS on Bandcamp

 

Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

Oreyeon on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

melody fields melody fields

Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

Melody Fields on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

Mammoth Grove on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Grove on Bandcamp

 

Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

Crimson Devils on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Devils on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crystal Spiders Post Debut Demo; First Live Appearance Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

crystal spiders (Photo by Marissa Straw)

Taking their moniker from the first track on the debut album from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Raleigh, North Carolina’s Crystal Spiders have unveiled their aptly-titled Demo ahead of making their first live appearance on Feb. 7 in their hometown. The release is comprised of three cuts giving three distinct looks at the trio as they move from the rolling doom rock and layered harmonies of “Tigerlily” through the rougher-edged thrust of “Flamethrower” with a classic metal riff careening through its sub-two-minute runtime, and into the catchy cultistry of “Devil’s Resolve,” on which bassist Brenna Leath — also of Ripple-signed heavy rockers Lightning Born — steps back from lead vocals to allow a shift to sludgy shouts ahead of a delve into the riff from Electric Wizard‘s “Witchcult Today” repurposed as the bed for an impressive solo from Mike Deloatch, backed by the swing of Tradd Yancey, who wins at names, outright.

It’s 11 minutes of material and does exactly what something called Demo should do: it lets the band get their feet under them and gives anyone listening fodder for future interest. Certainly with such variety over a relatively short period of time and the fact that the band has been together less than a full year, it’s probably safe to say they’re trying things out, but in so doing, they nonetheless give an encouraging look at their songwriting modus as well as some killer performances. If I was gonna be at the gig, I’d show up early. That’s all I’m saying.

Info and whatnot came down the PR wire, but the real point here is the stream, which you’ll find at the bottom of the post. So have at it:

crystal spider demo

Crystal Spiders – Demo

Formed by a punk rock kid, a crazed rock and roller, and later joined by a doom veteran, Crystal Spiders are rising from Raleigh, unleashing dynamic and powerful sounds speaking to the fundamental power of fuzz rock. Inspired by a slew of acts ranging from the Melvins and Kyuss to Fu Manchu, these scene veterans are tried and true worshipers of the riff. Featuring members of local favorites such as Lightning Born, Mind Dweller and Thirsty Curses, Crystal Spiders’ diverse mix of influences makes for music that separates them from the stoner rock rat race.

Brought together by a love of vintage gear, nasty licks, and ratty pedals, Crystal Spiders revel in the waves of volume commanded by their roaring amps. Frontwoman Brenna Leath’s dynamic voice soars above it all, guiding listeners from peak to sonic peak and fascinating the palate with her powerful delivery. She is perfectly complemented by her bandmate’s heavy vocals, joined by the roaring guitars of Mike Deloatch and the high-powered drums of Tradd Yancey. The legendary Raleigh rock scene has been a band breeding ground for years now, but rarely has something emerged from the crypt with the same passion and drive of this fuzz-possessed crew.

Reeking of smoke and drenched in distortion, their demo has just been self-released in January of 2019 and is guaranteed to reap minds and destroy souls, foreshadowing a debut album that will make waves in heavy circles. Excited for the opportunities to come, Leath says, “You know you’re doing something right when you look down at the speedometer and you’re doing 20 miles over with no idea of how you got there. 1-part vintage gear, 1-part doom, a dash of punk and a sprinkle of germanium. That’s how.”

Tracklisting:
1. Tigerlily
2. Flamethrower
3. Devil’s Resolve

All songs written and recorded by Crystal Spiders (Mike Deloatch, Brenna Leath, Tradd Yancey). Mixed and mastered by Jim Griffin, Shadetree Studios, Raleigh, NC. Art by Tyler Pennington. Layout by Alex Traboulsi.

Crystal Spiders live:
Feb 07 Slim’s Downtown Raleigh, NC w/ Thunderchief, WitchTit

Crystal Spiders is:
Brenna Leath – Bass & Vox
Mike Deloatch – Guitar & Vox
Tradd Yancey – Drums & Backup Vox

https://www.facebook.com/crystalspidersinmymind
https://crystalspiders.bandcamp.com

Crystal Spiders, Demo (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

Bonnacons of Doom on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

Boar on Thee Facebooks

Boar on Bandcamp

 

June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

June Bug on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

From Corners Unknown Records on Thee Facebooks

From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

BerT on Bandcamp

 

Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

Zen Bison on Thee Facebooks

Zen Bison on Bandcamp

 

Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

End of Hope Release First Demo; Live Debut this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

end of hope

It’s a demo, so that’s what they called it. The recorded-in-Gowanus debut two-songer from Brooklyn four-piece End of Hope, titled, yes, Demo, runs a little over five minutes long and is comprised of two tracks that look to bridge the gap between the tones of Northeastern heavy with the push and attitude of classic New York hardcore. What ties the two sounds together, largely, is a sense of aggression, and both “Guilt Trip” and “Last Night” have that work for them to be sure, as vocalist Davey Gunner shouts over Ken Wohlrob‘s riffing. The second track is shorter, faster and meaner than the first, so it could well be that the band ultimately plays to both styles as they move toward making their first long-player this Fall.

The underlying point, of course, is I’m curious to find out, which means that Demo has done its job thoroughly. You can hear it streaming at the bottom of this post. The band make their live debut in Brooklyn tomorrow. Here’s info:

end of hope demo

End of Hope — featuring members of Kraut, St. Bastard, Reign of Zaius, and Eternal Black — release their first demo and announce a debut show on May 4th, 2018

End of Hope — a new band comprised of members from several well-known New York City acts including Kraut, St. Bastard, Reign of Zaius, and Eternal Black — have released their first demo via their Bandcamp page (endofhope.bandcamp.com). The demo can be streamed or downloaded for free. They will be playing their debut show at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn on Friday, May 4th, 2018.

The band consists of Davey Gunner of New York Hardcore legends Kraut and Bowhead on vocals, Dave Richman of the one-man sludge-and-doom project St. Bastard on drums, Davis Schlachter of Brooklyn’s ape-rock purveyors Reign of Zaius on bass, and Ken Wohlrob of Brooklyn doom heavyweights Eternal Black on guitar.

According to vocalist Davey Gunner, End of Hope is “A collaboration of four musicians with many years of experience in the New York City music scene, with marinating musical tastes that produced quick, hard, and heavy results.”

The demo consists of two new songs, “Guilt Trip” and “Last Night.” They were recorded by the band at their rehearsal space in Gowanus with Davis Schlachter handling all production duties. Both combine the band’s approach of melding Motörhead with Black Flag, punk and speed rock played at maximum volume with anthemic choruses. In addition, they already have enough songs written for a full album which they will record in the Fall of 2018.

End of Hope’s debut show will be at Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn on Friday, May 4th. Joining them on the bill will be Elefant Killer, Eyes of The Living, and Banth. The show will start at 8 P.M.

End of Hope Demo track listing:
1. Guilt Trip
2. Last Night

End of Hope is:
Davey Gunner: Vocals
Dave Richman: Drums
Davis Schlachter: Bass
Ken Wohlrob: Guitars

https://endofhope.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/endofhopenyc/
https://www.instagram.com/endofhopenyc/
https://twitter.com/endofhopenyc
https://soundcloud.com/endofhope

End of Hope, Demo (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Gruntruck, The Dead Ends, Albatross Overdrive, High Priestess, Monolith Cult, Kayleth & Favequaid, Black Wail, Psychic Lemon, Ixion, Rattlesnake

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Three of the Quarterly Review! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling great. Plowing through, hearing a ton of good stuff. The week is rolling and though it’s most definitely caused me to be a neglectful husband and father for the last 72 hours (so far!), at very least the music is killer. That’s something, right? I didn’t really have a theme in picking today’s batch, but there are some commonalities between some of the inclusions all the same. See if you can find them, like one of those old puzzles in a Highlights magazine in your orthodontist’s wood-paneled office. Ready? Okay, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Gruntruck, Gruntruck

gruntruck-gruntruck

Held back due to legal issues with their original label, Roadrunner, the self-titled third album from Seattle groove-grungers Gruntruck hits like an open time-capsule nearly two decades after the fact of its recording: a little dusty but full of vitality and potential for what could’ve been. With a tad more crunch than the likes of Soundgarden and a crunch less TAD than TAD, Gruntruck found a middle-space between the melodies of their age and scene and heavier impulses, and if songs like “Trip,” the post-Nirvana “Build a Hole,” and the later “Spy” sound dated, well, they should. They are dated. It’s an album that was recorded over 20 years ago. That does nothing to take away from the quality of the songwriting, however, as closer “Flang” shows by demonstrating how thin the line between grunge and heavy rock has always been in the first place, let alone how fluidly Gruntruck were able to cross from one side to the other.

Gruntruck on Thee Facebooks

Found Recordings website

 

The Dead Ends, Deeper the Dark the Brighter We Shine

the-dead-ends-deeper-the-dark-the-brighter-we-shine

This warm and psychedelically charmed debut from Kavala, Greece’s The Dead Ends works quickly to deliver its cumbersome title-line in opener “Memory Ship (Sails at Dawn)” amid a build of organ-laced Doors-style drama, but the overarching spirit of the Sound Effect Records release is nonetheless patient and fluid. The keyboard work of vocalist Giorgos Sechlidis proves to be a major standout factor on the playful “Narri-E Narri-O” as rhythms and melodic elements out of Greek folk rear their head, and as guitarist Serios Savvaidis and drummer Dimitris Apostolidis provide vocal support throughout, the nine tracks of Deeper the Dark, the Brighter We Shine envelop with a depth that corresponds to their outward reach, still based around pop structures practically and conceptually, but feeling open and resolved to remain that way all the same. The jangly “Peter 2:18” closes out by building into a melodic wash, as if to underscore the potential within this exciting outfit’s budding stylistic nuance.

The Dead Ends on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

Albatross Overdrive, Keep it Running

albatross-overdrive-keep-it-running

Issued in 2016, Albatross Overdrive’s second full-length pulls together a sans-pretense 31 minutes of barroom-style heavy rock born of the California desert but not necessarily indebted solely to its aesthetic so much as to boozy swing and chug and meaner, engine-revving impulses. “Fire Dancer” and “Higher” make impressions early with catchy choruses and hard-delivered riffs, a touch of metal to the latter particularly, and the later “Preaching Love Not War” boasts a highlight performance from bassist Mark Abshire, formerly of Fu Manchu, while gritty vocalist Art Campos leads the five-piece – completed by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and drummer Rodney Peralta – through the grunge-chug of “Earth Mother,” recalling Alice in Chains’ “Again” in its cadence momentarily, though ultimately driven along its own course, headed into closer “Neva,” which finishes the album in top form just as it might cap a raucous live set on any given and much-improved Friday evening.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive website

 

High Priestess, Demo

high-priestess-demo

Los Angeles trio High Priestess were recently snagged by Ripple Music for the release of their impending debut album this year, and on the strength of this five-track demo, one could hardly argue. Tonally rich, perfectly paced in its rollout, melodically centered and meditative with surprising flashes of metallic noise, cuts like 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Firefly” offer psychedelic immersion and a sense of worldmaking rare in a band’s first long-player, let alone their initial demo. Weighted low end gives Demo an earthy sensibility, and there’s definitely a desert-style aspect to “Take the Blame” and “Mother Forgive Me,” but the intertwining vocal melodies of guitarist/organist Katie Gilchrest and bassist Mariana Fiel atop Megan Mullins’ drums provide a spaciousness well across the line of transcendent into ethereal psychedelia. Likewise, after the salvo of “Firefly” and its nine-minute companion “Despise,” the peaceful, organ-laced closer “Earth Dive” draws emphasis on sonic diversity with its patient build and underlying command. Especially as demos go, High Priestess’ is dangerously coherent.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

High Priestess on Instagram

 

Monolith Cult, Gospel of Despair

monolith-cult-gospel-of-despair

From the first listen onward, the hardest thing about putting on Monolith Cult’s second full-length, Gospel of Despair, is actually letting the seven tracks play without constantly interrupting them by saying “hell yes.” Whether it’s the hook of opener “Disconnection Syndrome,” the subsequent plod of the title-track that follows, the massive slowdown that hits about a minute into “Sympathy for the Living” as it moves into its chorus, or the Candlemassian finale chug and stomp of “Death Means Nothing,” the Bradford, UK, five-piece’s follow-up to their 2013 debut, Run from the Light (review here), dwells in similar terrain between righteous classic metal and doom as Cruz del Sur denizens Argus, and the band are likewise firm in their purposes and assured in their delivery. “King of all that’s Lost” feels exceptionally weighted in its impact, but set next to the faster motion in the first half of the penultimate “Complicit in Your Abuse,” it feeds into an overarching flow and sense of leather-on-fistpump-or-headbang-take-your-pick-ready audience response. Hell yes? Oh, hell yes.

Monolith Cult on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Records

 

Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six

kayleth-favequaid-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-six

In bringing together Verona’s Kayleth and Palermo’s Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six works more on a direct theme than some of the other installments in the impressive and impactful series from Ripple Music. But if there’s a particularly nation’s scene worth highlighting in the heavy rock underground, the emergent riffy movement in Italy makes a riotous case for itself as Favequaid bull-in-a-china-shop their way through the nine-minute “Hypochondria” on side B or Kayleth unfold the highlight nod and melody of “The Survivor” earlier, hitting a mark of spatial weight that’s as much about its crash as reach. Starting with the atmospheric pulse of “Desert Caravan” and following up “The Survivor” with the melodic push of “Magnetar,” Kayleth come across as the more progressive of the two outfits, but with the brash finale of “First” rounding out, Favequaid help put emphasis on the underrated diversity within Italian heavy rock on the whole, and maybe that was the idea in the first place.

Kayleth on Thee Facebooks

Favequaid on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Wail, Chromium Homes

black-wail-chromium-homes

Though it gradually comes to life around an intro of Hendrixian noodling at the start of “They,” its opener and longest track (immediate points), the third EP from New Jersey’s Black Wail, Chromium Homes, isn’t through that same song before a decidedly Dio-esque “lookout!” is tossed into the pot. Abrasive, sludgy screaming follows. So yeah, it gets weird pretty quick, but that turns out to be the fun of the 27-minute six-tracker, since it just as easily digs back into languid wah-led groove or lets its keyboards flesh out classic heavy rocking melodies. “Thee Ghost” chugs metallic before stepping back to a harmonized a capella midsection and swinging to its finish, and the title-track basks in heavy blues rock like nothing ever happened – the perfect setup for the nastier “The Dead Man’s Hand,” and weirdo bounce-into-punk-thrust of “Radioactive Mutation” that follow. And because why the hell not: a closing doomed-out cover of “Norwegian Wood.” Somehow that was the only thing missing. Black Wail are getting strange and daring you to do the same. If you think you’re up for it, maybe you are.

Black Wail on Bandcamp

Rhyme and Reason Records

 

Psychic Lemon, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

Psychic-Lemon-Frequency-Rhythm-Distortion-Delay

Prepare for spacedelic immersion. Somewhere there’s a countdown happening and waiting on the other end of it is Psychic Lemon’s sophomore LP, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, the title of which reads like the recipe from which its five tracks have been constructed. The 41-minute sprawler from the London-based trio sets itself to the task of atmospheric breakout with 8:31 opener “Exit to the Death Lane,” and while it’s hard not to be drawn immediately to a track called “International Fuzz Star” – let alone one that’s almost 10 minutes long – one skips the cosmic-grunge shuffle of “Hey Droog!” and the sped-up Sonic Youthism of centerpiece “You’re No Good” at one’s own peril. They tease tension in the kick drum but ultimately end up soothing in meandering closer “Satori Disko,” but the progressive threat has been laid all the same, and it says something about their accomplishment overall that even in the final moments of Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, one can’t be certain where Psychic Lemon might be headed next.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Ixion, Return

ixion return

Brittany, France-based Ixion is a project spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/growler/recording engineer/cover artist Julien Prat, and Return (on Finisterian Dead End) is the band’s third full-length. With clean vocals contributed by Yannick Dilly (who also mixed), it captures a contemplative and majestic balance of hope and sorrow, woeful in its extremity but bright-toned in its sprawling lead guitar figures in pieces like “Into Her Light” and the later “Stranger.” This meld fascinates throughout the nine-song/47-minute run, but it’s the poise of execution of all these ideas that make cuts like “Back Home” and the electronics-infused “Contact” stand out and recall some of the best moments of mid-period Katatonia, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Out of the Dark” onward, Return makes plain its self-awareness and resilience in capturing its formidable stylistic intention in the reality of the recording. It is a true work of beauty-in-darkness and affecting in both its scope and raw emotionalism.

Ixion on Thee Facebooks

Finisterian Dead End website

 

Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie

rattlesnake outlaw boogie

It’s just three songs, but Rattlesnake’s debut demo, Outlaw Boogie (also discussed here), was enough of an aesthetic mission statement all the same to wind up on my list of 2017’s best short releases, and with the swing and swagger provided by drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass, the classic-style riffing of guitarists Blake Charlton (Ramming Speed) and JP Gilbert (also vocals) and the wah bass Don Berger brings to “The Reason Why,” well, the reason why is frickin’ obvious. The New York-based newcomers capture a bright ‘70s vibe not dissimilar from The Golden Grass’ self-titled debut, but less serene and more urgent, more charged in its purposes on the whole, and dudelier in that okay-now-it’s-time-to-grow-a-mustache kind of way. Unsurprisingly, Outlaw Boogie is almost maddeningly catchy and cohesive and clear in its direction and intent, and the band seem to arrive in their conceptual foundation ready to move forward onto the next stage of their development. The only reason I call the three-tracker a demo at all and not an EP is because the band does. Otherwise there’s very little about it that doesn’t already denote it as a professional-grade work.

Rattlesnake on Thee Facebooks

In for the Kill Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Les Discrets, Test Meat, Matus, Farflung, Carpet, Tricky Lobsters, Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, The Acid Guide Service, Skunk, The Raynbow

Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

My friends, the time has come. Well, actually the time came about two weeks ago at the end of June, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Better late than never as regards all things, but most especially The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, which this time around features releases recent, upcoming and a bit older, a mix of known and lesser known acts, and as always, hopefully enough of a stylistic swath to allow everyone whose eyes the series of posts catches to find something they dig between now and Friday. As always, it’ll be 50 records from now until then, 10 per day, and I see no reason not to jump right in, so let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Les Discrets, Prédateurs

les discrets Prédateurs

After offering a preview of their marked stylistic turn in last year’s Virée Nocturne EP (review here), Lyon, France’s Les Discrets return with the suitably nighttime-urbane vibing of their Prédateurs full-length via Prophecy Productions. Five years after Ariettes Oubliées (review here), Fursy Teyssier and company reinvent their approach to the sonic lushness of their earlier work, departing the sphere of post-black metal they previously shared with sister band Alcest in favor of an anything-goes heavy experimentalism more akin to Ulver on cuts like “Le Reproche” or the deeply atmospheric “Fleur des Murailles.” Drones pepper “Rue Octavio Mey” and closer “Lyon – Paris 7h34” effectively conveys the sense of journey its train-schedule title would hint toward, and indeed Les Discrets as a whole seem to be in flux throughout Prédateurs despite an overarching cohesion within each track. It’s a fine line between multifaceted and disjointed, but fortunately, Teyssier’s grip on melodicism is unflinching and enough to tie otherwise disparate ideas together here.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Les Discrets at Prophecy Productions

 

Test Meat, Demo

test meat demo

Considering the pedigree involved in guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (ex-Milligram, Blackwolfgoat, Kind, etc.), bassist Aarne Victorine (UXO, Whitey) and drummer Michael Nashawaty (Planetoid, Bird Language), it’s little surprise that Test Meat’s Demo would have a pretty good idea of where it wants to come from. The five-track first showing from the Boston trio blends raw-edge grunge and noise rock on “He Don’t Know” after opening with its longest inclusion (immediate points) in the 3:50 “Cuffing Season,” and though centerpiece “Done” nods at the starts-and-stops of Helmet, the subsequent 2:35 push of “If You Wanna” is strikingly post-Nirvana, and closer “Permanent Festival” rounds out by bridging that gap via a still-straightforward heavy rock groove. Formative, yeah, but that’s the whole point. Test Meat revel in their barebones style and clearly aren’t looking to get overly lush, but one can’t help but be curious how or if they’ll develop a more melodic sensibility to go with the consuming, full buzzsaw tones they elicit here.

Test Meat on Thee Facebooks

Test Meat on Bandcamp

 

Matus, Intronauta

matus intronauta

Worth noting that while the opening cut here, “Claroscuro,” shares its title with Matus’ 2015 full-length (review here), that song didn’t actually appear on that album. Does that mean that the Lima, Peru, classic progressive rockers are offering leftovers from the same sessions on their new EP and perhaps final release, Intronauta? I don’t know, but the four tracks of the digital outing are a welcome arrival anyway, from the laid back easy vibes of the aforementioned opener through the riffier “Intronauta (Including Hasta Que El Sol Descanse en Paz),” the Theremin-soaked finish of the harder-driving “Catalina” and the acoustic-led four-part closer “Arboleda Bohemia,” which unfolds with lushness that remains consistent with the naturalism that has always been underlying in the band’s work. They’ve said their last few times out that the end is near, and if it’s true, they go out with a fully-cast sonic identity of their own and a take on ‘70s prog that remains an underrated secret of the South American underground.

Matus on Thee Facebooks

Matus on Bandcamp

 

Farflung, Unwound Celluloid Frown

farflung unwound celluloud frown

The jury, at least when it comes to the internet, still seems to be somewhat divided on whether the name of Farflung’s five-track/34-minute EP is Unwound Celluloid Frown or Unwound Cellular Frown. I’d say another argument is whether it’s an EP or an LP, but either way, let the follow-up to the more clearly-titled 2016 album (review here) demonstrate how nebulous the long-running Los Angeles space rockers can be when it suits them. Hugely and continually underrated, the troupe once again aligns to Heavy Psych Sounds for this release, which is rife with their desert-hued Hawkwindian thrust and weirdo vibes, permeating the rocket-fuel chug of the title-track and the noise-of-the-cosmos 13-minute headphone-fest that is “Axis Mundi,” which seems to end with someone coming home and putting down their car keys before a slowly ticking clock fades out and into the backwards swirling intro of lazily drifting closer “Silver Ghost with Crystal Spoons.” Yeah, it’s like that. Whatever you call it, the collection proves once again that Farflung are a secret kept too well.

Farflung on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Carpet, Secret Box

carpet secret box

Immersive and progressive psychedelia unfolds from the very opening moments of Carpet’s third album, Secret Box (on Elektrohasch Schallplatten), as the Augsberg, Germany-based five-piece explore lush arrangements of Moog, Rhodes, trumpet, vibraphone, etc. around central compositions of fluid guitar-led melodies and engaging rhythms. Their 2015 Riot Kiss 7” (review here) and 2013 sophomore long-player, Elysian Pleasures (review here), came from a similar place in intent, but from the funk wah and percussion underscoring the pre-fuzz-explosion portion of “Best of Hard Times” and the okay-this-one’s-about-the-riff “Shouting Florence” to the serene ambience of “For Tilda” and ethereal fluidity of “Pale Limbs” later on, the secret of Secret Box seems to be that it’s actually a treasure chest in disguise. Opening with its longest track in “Temper” (immediate points), the album hooks its audience right away along a graceful, rich-sounding melodic flow and does not relinquish its hold until the last piano notes of the closing title-track offer a wistful goodbye. In between, Carpet execute with a poise and nuance all the more enjoyable for how much their own it seems to be.

Carpet on Thee Facebooks

Carpet on Bandcamp

 

Tricky Lobsters, Worlds Collide

tricky lobsters worlds collide

Full, natural production, crisp and diverse songwriting, right-on performances and a name you’re not about to forget – there’s nothing about Tricky Lobsters not to like. Worlds Collide is their sixth album and first on Exile on Mainstream, and the overall quality of their approach reminds of the kind of sonic freedom proffered by Astrosoniq, but the German trio of guitarist/vocalist Sarge, bassist/vocalist Doc and drummer/vocalist Captain Peters have their own statements to make as well in the stomping “Battlefields,” the mega-hook of “Big Book,” the dreamy midsection stretch of “Father and Son” and the progressive melody-making of “Tarred Albino” (video premiere here). The emphasis across the nine-song/42-minute outing is on craft, but whether it’s the patient unfolding of “Dreamdiver Pt. I & II” or the harp-and-fuzz blues spirit of closer “Needs Must,” Tricky Lobsters’ sonic variety comes paired with a level of execution that’s not to be overlooked. Will probably fly under more radars than it should, but if you can catch it, do.

Tricky Lobsters on Thee Facebooks

Tricky Lobsters at Exile on Mainstream Records

 

Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Special

ten-foot-wizard-chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-special

Dubbed Special for reasons that should be fairly obvious from looking at the cover art, this meeting of minds, riffs and cats between Manchester’s Ten Foot Wizard and London’s Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters brings four tracks – two per band – and goes so far as to find the groups collaborating on the former’s “Get Fucked,” which opens, and the latter’s “Dunkerque,” which begins their side of the 7”, as vocalists The Wailing Goblin (of Chubby Thunderous) and Gary Harkin (of Ten Foot Wizard) each sit in for a guest spot on the other band’s cuts. Both bands also offer a standalone piece, with Ten Foot Wizard digging into heavy rock burl on “Night Witches” and Chubby Thunderous blowing out gritty party sludge in “Nutbar,” which rounds out the offering, and between them they showcase well the sphere of the UK’s crowded but diverse heavy rock underground. Kind of a niche release in the spirit of Gurt and Trippy Wicked’s 2016 Guppy split/collab, but it works no less well in making its impact felt.

Ten Foot Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Thee Facebooks

 

The Acid Guide Service, Vol. 11

the acid guide service vol 11

It turns out that Vol. 11 is actually Vol. 1 for Garden City, Idaho, three-piece The Acid Guide Service, who dig into extended fuzz-overdose riffing on the 52-minute nine-tracker, proffering blown-out largesse even on shorter cuts like the five-minute “Into the Sky” while longer pieces like opener “Raptured” (7:16), “EOD” (9:38) and closer “Black Leather Jesus” (10:04) skirt lines between structure and jams as much as between heavy rock and psychedelia. Proffered by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Russ Walker, bassist/vocalist Tyler Walker and drummer Nick McGarvey, one can hear shades of Wo Fat in the guitar-led expanse of “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Is the Drug I’m On),” but on the whole, Vol. 11 speaks more to the late-‘90s/early-‘00s post-Kyuss stoner rock heyday, with flourish of Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu for good measure in the hard-swinging “Dude Rockin’” and its chugging companion piece, “Marauder King.” Big tones, big riffs, big groove. The Acid Guide Service are preaching to the converted, but clearly coming from a converted place themselves in so doing. Right on.

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Doubleblind

skunk doubleblind

Professing a self-aware love for the earliest days of heavy metal in idea and sound, Oakland’s Skunk offer their full-length debut with the self-released Doubleblind, following up on their 2015 demo, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here). That outing featured four tracks that also appear on Doubleblind – “Forest Nymph,” “Wizard Bong,” “Black Hash” and “Devil Weed.” Working on a theme? The theme is “stoned?” Yeah, maybe, but the cowbell-infused slider groove and standout hook of “Mountain Child” are just as much about portraying that ‘70s vibe as Skunk may or may not be about the reefer whose name they bear. Presumably more recent material like that song, “Doubleblind,” closer “Waitin’ Round on You” and leadoff cut “Forest Nymph” coherently blend impulses drawn from AC/DC, Sabbath and Zeppelin. John McKelvy’s vocals fit that spirit perfectly, and with the grit brought forth from guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle, Skunk dig into catchy, excellently-paced roller riffing and cast their debut in the mold of landmark forebears. Mothers, teach your children to nod.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

The Raynbow, The Cosmic Adventure

the raynbow the cosmic adventure

As they make their way through a temporal drift of three tracks that play between krautrocking jazz fusion, psychecosmic expansion and Floydian lushness, Kiev-based explorers The Raynbow keep immersion central to their liquefied purposes. The Cosmic Adventure (on Garden of Dreams Records) is an aptly-titled debut full-length, and the band who constructed it is comprised of upwards of eight parties who begin with the 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Changes,” which builds toward and through a metallic chug apex, sandwiching it on either side with ultra-patient molten tone and soundscaping that continues to flourish through the subsequent “Cosmic Fool” (5:17) and “Blue Deep Sea Eyes” (8:18), the whole totaling a still-manageable outward trip into reaches of slow-moving space rock that whether loud or quiet at any individual moment more than earns a volume-up concentrated headphone listen. The kind of outfit one could easily imagine churning out multiple albums in a single year, The Raynbow nonetheless deliver a dream on The Cosmic Adventure that stands among the best first offerings I’ve heard in 2017.

The Raynbow on Thee Facebooks

Garden of Dreams Records on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sweet Heat, Demo: To Crawl and Entice (Plus Full Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

swee-heat-demo-cover

[Click play above to stream Sweet Heat’s Sweet Heat Demo in full. They play with The Golden Grass and Pilgrim on Saturday at Dusk in Providence, RI, and will appear at Maryland Doom Fest 2017.]

The story of Sweet Heat begins in 2015 with the demise of Rhode Island-based doom traditionalists Balam. With some impressive local momentum behind them, Balam released their Days of Old (track premiere here) full-length early last year, and by the time 2016 rolled around, the band was done. Sort of. Vocalist Alexander Blackhound, guitarist Jonny Sage, bassist Nicholas Arruda and drummer Zigmond Coffey — four-fifths of Balam‘s lineup — were quick to regroup under the banner of Sweet Heat (also sometimes preceded by a “the”) and set to writing new material. And while one might be tempted to think of the new band simply as an extension of the old, the adoption of a different moniker is very clearly a purposeful move on their part.

They may be the same players, but the ground they’re exploring on Sweet Heat‘s four-song debut demo, aptly-titled Demo or Sweet Heat Demo, differs greatly from the darkened and moody tonality of the prior outfit. Of course, they’re just starting out, so where they might end up after these 18 minutes remains to be seen — they may well return to the dark side — but as a debut offering, Sweet Heat‘s first skillfully blends impulses out of classic heavy rock with a riffy foundation. There are some flashes of doom or at very least proto-metal on opener “Night Crawler,” but even as “The Enticer” digs into Sabbathian roll, Sage‘s guitar scorches in a manner altogether more rocking.

Likewise, “How it’s Done” seems to owe as much to Radio Moscow as Pentagram, and one can hear some residual Uncle Acid influence in the buzz and shuffle of “Night Crawler,” though Blackhound‘s vocals — his presence as a frontman was a major factor in Balam as well — assures the overall feel doesn’t come too close to anyone else. It’s a demo, of course, so basically Sweet Heat are showing off an initial batch of songs trying to encourage people to investigate further, be it at a show or their inevitable next release. But even that feeds into their aesthetic. In a day where a band doesn’t have to do anything more than slap a cover together and post it on Bandcamp, a demo easily becomes a “first EP,” but it’s telling that Sweet Heat embrace the rougher-feeling impression that even the word “demo” gives off. Cassette-ready.

sweet-heat-demo-back-cover

And the music follows suit (though actually the release is on CD). There is a noticeable shift in production and volume between “Night Crawler” and “The Enticer,” and though the feel remains live and energetic into “How it’s Done” (premiered here) and the eponymous closer “Sweet Heat,” the actual sound is cleaner. On an album that might be jarring, but here it just feeds into the notion that Sweet Heat are exploring a new style and coming together as songwriters in a new way. It is laced with attitude. In the swagger of “The Enticer” and “How it’s Done,” the foursome build on the swing of “Night Crawler” and as they close out with “Sweet Heat,” they do so with classically metallic defiance: fist-pumping, a pervasive self-othering, and chug. Righteous and crisply, efficiently executed.

As “Sweet Heat” moves into its chorus, “We are the ones that you fear/You don’t like us?/We don’t care/We are who we are,” the band not only once more reinforce the perspective of the Demo as a whole, but provide their first outing with its most landmark hook while showing an ability to fluidly turn from one side to another in their play between rock and metal. From Blackhound‘s convicted recitation through Coffey‘s cymbal work and Arruda holding the rhythm together under Sage‘s blazing multi-layered solo in the second half, Sweet Heat live little to wonder as to why the finale of their demo wound up being the song that took their name. I wouldn’t be surprised if, on whatever kind of offering comes next for them, the track didn’t show up again, though of course one never knows.

In any case, Sweet Heat‘s Demo more than lives up to the tasks before it in establishing the group as an entity separate from their past work together, giving listeners a glimpse of their ample chops in songwriting and performance delivery, and setting a foundation on which they can continue to build as they move forward. There isn’t much more one could ask of it on the whole than it delivers, but the punch Sweet Heat‘s first batch of material packs goes beyond “band starting out” and finds their potential all the more bolstered by the chemistry they so clearly and so rightly wanted to preserve.

Sweet Heat on Bandcamp

Sweet Heat website (coming soon)

Tags: , , , , ,