A Sun Traverse to Release Self-Titled Debut Dec. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ll admit my curiosity is piqued in part here because the circumstances seem so strange. Danish death-doomers A Sun Traverse are getting ready to release their self-titled debut through Mighty Music. Nothing too weird about that, but the fact that the EP is coming out on Dec. 24 strikes me as particularly odd given the fact that it’s the day before Xmas. Hard to imagine a time the public is paying less attention to new stuff being released — not to mention being broke from buying presents for friends and relatives. Maybe they’re betting death-doom fans are lonely atheists, and maybe they are, I don’t really know, but if you’re so lonely and so godless that you’re buying records on Xmas Eve instead of spending time with your family, you’re welcome to come to dinner with mine instead. I promise no one will talk about Jeebus even once.

A Sun Traverse will have a video out to precede their self-titled debut next month. For now, you can sample a couple tracks from their ReverbNation page (oy.) under the PR wire info below:

a sun traverse (photo by Bjarke Ahlstrand)

A SUN TRAVERSE

NEW DOOM METAL BAND FEAT. EX SATURNUS MEMBERS

A SUN TRAVERSE is a new Doom metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark.

After departing with SATURNUS, Peter E. Poulsen (guitars), Tais Pedersen (guitars), Nikolai Borg (drums) and Anders R. Nielsen (keyboards) formed A SUN TRAVERSE and was later joined by bassist player Lennart Jacobsen (also ex. SATURNUS). Recently vocalist Michael H. Andersen (THORIUM, ex. WITHERING SURFACE) completed the line-up.

A SUN TRAVERSE is proud to present the first official release. A Journey into classic, melancholic yet beautiful doom/death metal with haunting melodies and deep, roaring vocals. Produced and mixed by KB Larsen (Volbeat, The Kandidate) and mastered by Henrik West/Medley Studio (Artillery, Glenn Hughes).

The Self titled minialbum is released on Mighty Music on Christmas Eve 2016 on LP format and all digital platforms.

Recently a music video was done for the 8+ minute opus “Dance Darkness Dance” with Kennie Ørsted (The Vision Ablaze, Sea) to be released on October 28th.

Currently the band is booking their shows for early 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/asuntraverse/
http://mightymusic.dk/

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The Wands Post Video for “Faces”; New EP out Sept. 5

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the wands

If you look at the tour dates below for Danish outfit The Wands, you’ll notice no fewer than three dates feature are billed as ‘Psych Fest.’ If that’s a running theme, then fair enough for the classically lysergic sounds the four-piece conjure and toward which the vibes of their new video for “Faces” seem to be directly leaning.

The track comes from their upcoming EP of the same name, which is out Sept. 5 on Fuzz Club Records as the follow-up to their 2014 debut long-player, The Dawn and their first EP, 2012’s Hello I Know the Blow You Grow is Magic, as well as a single or two, and it brings together a modern sense of tonality and production with classic, late-’60s psychedelic pop in a way that feels otherworldly while remaining grounded in a definite and traditional structure. A languid vibe permeates, and the hook provides noteworthy landmarks along the way.

I’ll confess I haven’t heard the full EP yet, but if this is the molten shape of the thing, I’d like to. Fuzz Club is taking orders now at the link below, and of course you’ll also find The Wands‘ aforementioned tour routing down there under the video. They seem to carry the notion of ‘psych fest’ wherever they go, and at least in “Faces,” they go pretty far out.

Enjoy:

The Wands, “Faces” official video

Taken from the EP ‘Faces’ by The Wands.
Release 05.09.16 on Fuzz Club Records

Get a copy of the EP here: http://goo.gl/tesQoZ

Directed and produced by Mathias Riis (www.magma-cph.com)

TOUR DATES – FALL 2016
SEP 04 – DK – COPENHAGEN – PAVILLONEN VED KARENSMINDE
SEP 09 – ES – ZARAGOZA – ZARAGOZA PSYCH FEST
SEP 10 – ES – BARCELONA – UPLOAD
SEP 21 – DK – ODENSE – POSTEN
SEP 23 – DK – RANDERS – VON HATTEN
SEP 30 – DK – SØNDERBORG – SØNDERBORGHUS
SEP 30 – DK – AARHUS – AARHUS PSYCH FEST
OCT 01 – DK – AALBORG – STUDENTERHUSET
OCT 14 – UK – LONDON – THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS
OCT 16 – FR – PARIS – LE POINT EPHEMERE
OCT 21 – FR – LYON – LE SONIC
OCT 26 – IT – CARPI – MATTATOIO
OCT 28 – IT – TORTONA – DAZEBAO
OCT 29 – IT – RAVENNA – CLUB BRONSON
NOV 03 – NL – AMSTERDAM – STUDIO K
NOV 11 – NO – OSLO – OSLO PSYCH FEST
More shows TBA

Song credits:
Written and performed by The Wands
Mixed and engineered by William Smith
Mastered by Emil Thomsen
Recorded in Black Tornado Studios Copenhagen in 2016

The Wands are Christian Skibdal, Mads Gräs, Kristoffer Hvidberg and Thomas Brandt

The Wands on Thee Facebooks

The Wands website

The Wands at Fuzz Club Records

Fuzz Club Records on Thee Facebooks

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Baby Woodrose Post Video for “21st Century Slave”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

baby woodrose 21st century slave

About two months ago, Danish psych-garage institution Baby Woodrose made public the first audio from their seventh album, Freedom (review here) — out Sept. 16 on Bad Afro Records — in the form of a video for the track “Open Doors” (posted here). That song, maddeningly catchy as one would expect, featured Baby Woodrose‘s frontman, Lorenzo Woodrose, reciting the lyrics in a subdued manner on a swirling psychedelic green-screen backdrop, all tripped-out, expanded-mind and so on. Not groundbreaking, but a cool way to introduce the track to fans of the band with something of a personal spin.

The clip you’ll find below for “21st Century Slave” seems to get more at the core mood of the record. It works in washed out tones of blue, dark in the way of gritty modern dramas set in major cities. Once again we see Woodrose himself as the focus, but this time instead of alone, he’s absolutely smothered by the humanity around him, a largely faceless crowd of people coming and going about their lives. Woodrose, deadpan, once again delivers the lyrics to “21st Century Slave,” which are rife with cultural critique directed at the general malaise of what what middle class existence has become — wake up, go to work, go home, eat, sleep, shit, etc. — and the question of what is real and unreal in these processes. It seems only fair to call the results brooding, despite the enduring crispness of Woodrose‘s songcraft and shimmering tonality.

When taken together, “21st Century Slave” and “Open Doors,” the two videos, perfectly represent the two sides at work across Freedom — one trying to show a way to a better existence and the other showing why we as a species need it. Baby Woodrose will headline Bad Afro Records‘ 20th anniversary party on Nov. 5 in Copenhagen with Telstar Sound Drone and Narcosatanicos. For more on that, check out the posted info here.

Enjoy “21st Century Slave” below:

Baby Woodrose, “21st Century Slave” official video

Shot & cut & color by Palle Demant // Fuzz Cake Film. Taken from the Baby Woodrose album Freedom due out September 16th, 2016 on Bad Afro Records.

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Freedom preorder on Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records website

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Baby Woodrose, Freedom: Long Way from Home (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

baby woodrose freedom

[Stream Baby Woodrose’s ‘Mind Control Machine’ by clicking play above. Freedom is out Sept. 16, 2016, on Bad Afro Records.]

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Denmark’s Baby Woodrose, who remain an underground phenomenon despite being one of the most pivotal European heavy rock bands to come along in that time. That’s not an exaggeration. As scenes have cropped up, gotten big, and died, Baby Woodrose have persisted with an unmatched love and execution of heavy, psychedelic garage rock, and they have remained largely unmatched in the form since their inception. The era of their 2001 debut, Blows Your Mind!, was revisited with the 2014 compilation Kicking Ass and Taking Names (review here), but it’s been four years since Uffe “Lorenzo Woodrose” Lorenzen (who’s also spent part of that time with his other band Spids Nøgenhat) and company issued their last proper full-length, 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here).

The effects-soaked, mind-expanded, recorded-to-tape Freedom is the band’s seventh album. Put together with the lineup of Lorenzo Woodrose on guitar/vocals along with, guitarist Mads Saaby, organist Anders Skjødt, bassist Kåre Joensen and drummer Hans Beck and issued through longtime label home and respected purveyor Bad Afro Records, the record continues on from where Third Eye Surgery left off in some ways, basking in bright tones and more expansive sonic reach, but keeps the core of classic post-13th Floor Elevators psychedelia and the infectious hooks that have typified their material all along. Lorenzo is, quite simply, a master of the form, but as much as Freedom‘s nine tracks/37 minutes are a show of the well-established strengths in his approach — good luck getting “Mind Control Machine” or “21st Century Slave” or “Mantra” out of your head — the material likewise pushes those strengths forward as well.

The title Freedom, the Black Power-reminiscent cover art (at least that’s how my American eyes see it) and the title-track itself, which reinterprets an old slave spiritual as a righteous psychedelic declaration — one might recall Richie Havens played the song at Woodstock and Clutch referenced it as well in “Motherless Child” — that succinctly encapsulates the album’s central theme of thought control at the hands of a wrongly directed dominant culture. “I don’t believe in your concept of reality,” Lorenzo states in the hook of opener “Reality,” and the lighter strum and fuzz of “21st Century Slave” works smoothly in contrast to the cynicism at the song’s heart, but as with some of Baby Woodrose‘s best and certainly their more recent output, there’s a tinge of melancholy under the upbeat, classic songwriting. That’s certainly the case in “21st Century Slave,” so it’s all the more fitting that the stomp of “Open Doors” — on which both Joensen and Skjødt shine early — should follow immediately.

At just over three minutes long, “Open Doors” is a highlight, and it also marks a lyrical turn, departing from the direct social critique of the first two songs to offer an alternative in the psychedelic lifestyle. Instead of “your concept of reality,” it’s “open doors in my mind.” That swap is subtle, but pivotal, since it helps establish the core conflict of Freedom as a whole, which one might boil down to squares vs. heads, but of course is expressed on a more complex level than that. After “Open Doors,” an immediate swirl of keys and/or effects begins the push of “Mind Control Machine,” a song that quickly makes its way “up the stairs to the 13th floor” and which “21st Century Slave” referenced in its lyrics. Likewise uptempo but more intense than “Open Doors,” it brings back the critical aspects of the first two tracks lyrically while expanding the scope instrumentally toward more expansive psychedelic terrain. That effects swirl — Echoplex? — never quite dissipates, and the song is richer for it.

baby woodrose

Centerpiece and shortest cut “Peace” is the departure that ultimately ties the entire album together. The subdued, still-tripped-out 2:27 track is probably the closer of the vinyl’s side A, but more than that, it provides a landmark as one of four single-word titles that between them draw a narrative progression for Freedom as a whole that begins with “Reality,” moves through “Peace,” finds “Freedom,” recites its “Mantra” of “I’ll never stop/I can never get enough” before finally disintegrating blissfully in the space rock jam of eight-minute closer “Termination.” “Peace” and “Freedom” work especially well together — on all levels, I suppose — as the former patiently hypnotizes the listener and the latter picks up with a near-immediate sweep, consuming with a depth of tone that pushes Lorenzo to the fore, his vocals watery as he recites “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” in a manner that’s as honest and personal as it is homage.

Freedom‘s crux arrives in a call and response of the title-line of the title-track, and “Red the Signpost” kicks in with a noisier and spacier motion, running quickly through verses and its chorus, its almost frenetic solo, in under three minutes that breaks things up with perhaps the album’s most energetic moment. “Mantra” is slower and more groove-minded at the start, like a moodier take on some of the album’s earlier vibes, but the lyrics once again turn personal with repetitions of the above-quoted hook. A multi-layered solo is spacious but short en route back to the verse, as Baby Woodrose prove efficient once again in making their point and getting out; songwriting so tight it’s a wonder all the light that does can escape at all.

Closer “Termination” is nothing short of a psychedelic wonder. At 8:27, it’s easily the longest inclusion, but more than that, from its patient unfolding to its effects-wash build, Hawkwindian thrust, proclamations of doom in the lyrics surrounded by a warm cosmic gorgeousness that almost makes you think it’s going to be okay. The song flows immaculately between more active verses and spaced-out jamming, lyrics arriving in the second half after a jam soon to resume has pushed even further out. Baby Woodrose carry forth once again after the last lines are done and proceed to the album’s final build, which its a suitable payoff but is telling even in its ending, Freedom ultimately setting itself free in a final minute of effects swirl and lone, space guitar plucking out wistful notes that fade out to close.

If one takes Lorenzo as the auteur of Baby Woodrose in terms of the songwriting, that’s probably fair enough — there’s no doubt he’s at the center of the record — but the full-band live feel of Freedom would seem to express ideas no less pivotal to that concept than the railing against a sterile culture one finds in the lyrics to songs like “21st Century Slave,” “Reality” and “Mind Control Machine.” All of this feeds together to make Freedom a more than worthy next step in Baby Woodrose‘s hopefully ongoing progression, and that is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to it.

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Preorder Freedom at Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records website

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Papir Sign to Stickman Records; New Album Due Early 2017

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are few labels with taste as blindly reliable as Stickman Records, who in the past have aligned themselves with the likes of MotorpsychoElder and Spidergawd, so when I say that Copenhagen’s Papir will make a good fit for the roster, take it as a sign of respect for the quality of the instrumental trio’s output. Their last record, IIII (review here), came out in 2014 on El Paraiso Records — the imprint helmed by members of Causa Sui; no minor shakes as regards taste either — and since then the band has collaborated with Electric Moon and Øresund Space Collective, so it’s fair to note that their track record of keeping good company continues unabated.

Veterans of RoadburnFreak ValleyDesertfest and many others, Papir will release a new album — which either will or will not be titled IIIII — in early 2017 through Stickman Records. It took me a while to catch onto these guys, but I’ve been glad I did ever since, and the sense of forward thinking jamming and progressive sensibility they bring to their sonic textures is second to none. Whatever they call it, I’m looking forward to hearing the next stage of their ongoing development.

Stickman offered the following brief announcement on the pickup with the promise of more album details to come:

papir-700

NEW SIGNING – PAPIR FROM COPENHAGEN!

We’re happy to announce that we have a new family member on Stickman Records: Papir from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Papir are an instrumental trio who have released a string of great albums on El Paraiso. After seeing them several times at Roadburn, Freak Valley, and most recently at the Copenhagen PsychFest, we’re excited to welcome them into the fold and see what the future will bring.

The band’s new album will be mixed in mid-August by John McEntire of Tortoise and is scheduled for release in early 2017. Details to follow!

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://www.stickman-records.com/

Papir, “IIII.I”

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Mares of Diomedes and Dreich Split Due Sept. 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Heavy Earth Records brings multifaceted, multi-format aural oppression to bear in the new split between Mares of Diomedes and Dreich due out Sept. 12. Both bands have songs playing now, and I think “Titan” and “Blood Mortar” both give a pretty clear idea of where this thing is headed — i.e., for your skull. Hailing from Ireland and Denmark, respectively, both bands show plenty of aggro edge to go with their doomed/sludged vibe, and the label certainly seems to be giving the release its due, making it available on tape, CD and vinyl — all on the same day, which is becoming increasingly rare.

Preorders are up now, and you can check out the aforementioned tracks under the following pretty pictures and blue text:

Dreich/Mares of Diomedes Split

The next installment on Heavy Earth Records is a split from Copenhagen based purveyors of bleak metal/doom Dreich and Irish sludge/doom brothers Mares of Diomedes.

Followers of Heavy Earth will be familiar with Mares of Diomedes from their self titled EP which was released through Heavy Earth records last year. Here is a preview of one of the new tracks – Titan.

Four piece Dreich are new to the fold and come together on this debut release to summon some of the bleakest, most horrid, heavy sounds around. Check out a preview of their new track Blood Mortar here.

Vinyl pre-orders are now available for the Mares Of Diomedes/Dreich split through the Heavy Earth Records site, with cassette and cd soon to follow. The release date for all formats is due on the 12th of September.

The Mares of Diomedes tracks were recorded and mixed by Niall Doran at Start Together Studios (http://nialldoran.com/) and mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna).Dreich were recorded, mixed and mastered by Lasse @ Ballade Studios, Copenhagen.(http://www.balladestudios.com/). The artwork is by Francesca Vecchio (https://www.facebook.com/PQSkotia) and the layout by Emmett Connell. (www.facebook.com/emmettconnellcreative)

www.heavyearthrecords.com
www.facebook.com/heavyearthrecords
www.twitter.com/heavyearthrecs
https://www.facebook.com/dreich.doom/
https://www.facebook.com/maresofdiomedes

Mares of Diomedes, “Titan”

Dreich, “Blood Mortar”

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Dorre and Bethmoora Split LP Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

The common thread between Dorre and Bethmoora is an affinity for the extreme. Dorre, from Belgium, showed it with noisy post-metallic edge that they brought to their 2015 half-hour-long single-song EP One Collapsed at the Altar, while Denmark’s Bethmoora seem to be geared toward a rawer onslaught of sludge and doom, topped by vicious screams and growls as evidenced in their Demo 2016, which is comprised of two songs.

Their contribution to the split, “Succumb,” consumes a single side on its own, while Dorre have two tracks on offer. Both groups mixed with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. No audio yet, so I included both bands’ latest releases from their respective Bandcamps:

Dorre-Bethmoora-LP-cover

Dorre/Bethmoora split LP

In 2015 Dorre played a select set of shows as build-up towards an EP release in December. The EP was made and released following a first stint outside of the borders, touring throughout England and Scotland in January of 2016 and sharing the stage with many great bands. Now, more than ever, Dorre is focused on creating dark, heavy music and playing immense live sets. Dorre have been confirmed for another show in London with Serpent Venom and are headlining the mainstage of Somatic Festival in Wakefield in November.

Copenhagen based sludge/doom 5 piece Bethmoora, has existed for about a year in its current form, all members with experience from previous bands. Huge riffs, bludgeoning rhythms and disturbing vocals are key elements of the slow descent.

The lyrics of Bethmoora’s tracks revolve around a common theme – a mythos that singer Anders has created. Deities, entities, occult rituals and eternal strife are all key ingredients of this vast, ever expanding, imaginary dark world.

Tracklist:
Side A:
Dorre – Three Fell from the Sky
Dorre – Four Walked into the Ocean
Side B:
Bethmoora – Succumb

Dorre:
Adriaan De Raymaeker (Guitars)
Erik Heyns (Guitars)
Wolf Overloop (Drums)

Bethmoora:
Anders Kofod (Vocals)
Henrick Lyck (Guitars)
Martin Korff (Drums)
Morten Leerhøy (Guitars)
Sune Westh Svendsen (Bass)

Dorre’s tracks recorded at Magnet Records by Jean-Pol Van Ham and Johan Breton. Bethmoora’s tracks recorded at Wolf Rider Sound Production by Patrick Fragtrup. All tracks mixed at Skyhammer Studio by Chris Fielding. All tracks mastered by James Plotkin. Cover artwork by Diaz Inigo.

Please note that ALL pre-orders will be online on http://shop.dor.re.

http://www.facebook.com/dorreofficial
http://dor.re
http://dorre.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/doomedbethmoora
http://www.bethmoora.com
http://doomedbethmoora.bandcamp.com

Dorre, One Collapsed at the Altar (2015)

Bethmoora, Demo 2016

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Quarterly Review: Spiritual Beggars, Øresund Space Collective, Goya, Black Shape of Nexus, Cough, Oranssi Pazuzu, Karma to Burn, Black Mood, Nebula Drag, Ommadon

Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Day Two of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review — that’s an awful lot of capital letters. I’m not sure if it’s quite such a formal occasion, but perhaps that’s just an effect of staring at some of the names in this particular batch, who from classic heavy rock to post-black metal to stoner riffs, drone, doom and beyond offer a pretty vast range and more than a small measure of profile throughout. It’s a substantial swath, is what I’m saying. If you can’t find something here to dig on, well, I’d say look again, but of course there’ll also be another 10 reviews tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and there were 10 yesterday as well, so I’m sure something will turn up if it hasn’t yet. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown

spiritual beggars sunrise to sundown

More than 20 years on from their self-titled debut, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars release their ninth LP, Sunrise to Sundown (on Inside Out Music). They seem to have set themselves to the sole task of making the records that one wishes Deep Purple were making, full of righteous organ-laced classic heavy thrust, driven by top tier songwriting and performance on every level. Founding guitarist Michael Amott (also Carcass) has assembled a lineup of masters, and since 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), frontman Apollo Papathanasio (also Firewind) has provided the soaring voice to add to the keyboard majesty of Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Candlemass) on songs like “I Turn to Stone.” The album’s 11 cuts are catchy, universally structured, and varied in their feel enough to carry the listener through fluidly, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Mercyful Fate) and drummer Ludwig Witt (ex-Firebird) locking in weighted grooves and underscoring the flow of what comes across like an increasingly collaborative songwriting process. Sunrise to Sundown is the sound of a band knowing what they want to do and how they want to do it and then doing precisely that.

Spiritual Beggars on Thee Facebooks

Inside Out Music website

 

Øresund Space Collective, Ode to a Black Hole

oresund space collective ode to a black hole

How many records does Ode to a Black Hole make it for Danish improve spacelords Øresund Space Collective? I honestly don’t know. Their Bandcamp lists 52 releases. Granted, not all of them are full-length studio LPs, but they jam whether they’re live or in the studio, so after a point it’s kind of moot. However many in the ultimate tally, Ode to a Black Hole is somewhat unique among them, exploring the darker side of the cosmic reaches in a bleaker, droning psychedelia spread across two instrumental tracks put to tape at the same time as 2015’s triple-LP Different Creatures (review here). Of course, it’s Øresund Space Collective, so there is still plenty of synth and effects swirl to be had, but it’s a slower galaxial movement as “Ode to a Black Hole Part 1” feeds directly into “Ode to a Black Hole Part 2.” Whatever their method of getting there, Øresund Space Collective prove once again how apparently boundless their scope has become with nuance of guitar and key flourish beneath the surface of the mix to let the listener know there’s life out in the expanse.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

 

Goya, The Enemy

goya the enemy

Phoenix, Arizona’s Goya continue their forward march with The Enemy EP (on STB Records). Still fair to say Electric Wizard are a primary influence, but as shown on their last full-length, 2015’s charmingly-titled Obelisk (review here), the trio are increasingly able to put more of themselves into their sound. In “The Enemy,” “Last” and “Light Years,” that shows in tighter songwriting, some vocal harmonies on “Light Years,” and a harder overall tonal impact than the tenets of post-Witchcult Today doomery might lead one to expect, reminding in parts of the raw in-room feel that Egypt have come to proffer, burly but more about groove than attitude. The EP closes with a nine-minute take on “The Enemy” itself, adding more harmonies, some screams at the end, and a lengthy midsection jam to flesh out its extra four minutes. Goya have been and still are a bright spot (existentially, if not in mood) in up-and-coming US doom, and The Enemy might be a stopgap coming off of Obelisk, but it reminds listeners of their growth very much still in progress.

Goya on Thee Facebooks

STB Records

 

Black Shape of Nexus, Carrier

black shape of nexus carrier

In a universe full of pretenders to the throne of Eyehategod, German six-piece Black Shape of Nexus prove there’s room for genuine creativity in sludge. Their fourth offering, Carrier (on Exile on Mainstream), finds them past the 10-year mark and lumbering their way through five varied originals, from the cavernous opener “I Can’t Play It” through the droning “Lift Yourself” and the utter spacecrush that ensues in “Facepunch Transport Layer” before the villainous laughter at the end of “Sachsenheim” leads to a 12-minute take on Hellhammer’s “Triumph of Death,” which closes. It feels like no coincidence that of the Black Shape of Nexus-penned inclusions “Sand Mountain” is the centerpiece; the tortured screaming, claustrophobic riff and blend of rawness and lush depth speak to the originality at the core of their approach. There’s a firm sense of fuckall here, and my understanding is making Carrier was something of a trial, but the results are perhaps only more vicious for that, and thus stronger.

Black Shape of Nexus on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cough, Still They Pray

cough still they pray

Six years and the ascent of an entire movement of similarly-minded acts later, Cough ooze back to activity with Still They Pray (on Relapse), their dirt-caked third full-length. That movement, by the way, includes fellow Richmonders Windhand, with whom Cough now share bassist Parker Chandler and whose Garrett Morris recorded here along with Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, who remain a major influence in Cough’s grueling, nodding filth, brought to bear over eight tracks and a purposefully unmanageable 67-minute runtime. Stylistically it’s not so far from where Cough were on 2010’s Ritual Abuse (review here), the bleak anarchistic lurch and tonal immersion still very much at the fore of “Possession,” “Dead Among the Roses” and the organ-inclusive “The Wounding Hours,” but though they can play slow enough to make “Masters of Torture” seem positively thrashy by comparison, they never lose their sense of atmosphere, as the acoustic-led closing title-track makes plain in fashion no less heavy than the punishment meted out before it.

Cough on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Oranssi Pazuzu, Värähtelijä

oranssi pazuzu varahtelija

It feels factually inaccurate to call something so wilfully charred “vibrant,” but Oranssi Pazuzu’s fourth long-player, Värähtelijä (on Svart and 20 Buck Spin), not only finds light in its overarching darkness, but makes it a pivotal aspect of the album’s 69-minute course. Open structures, an enviable depth of mix between far-off guitar, keys, organ, various layers of screams, etc., songs like 12-minute opener “Saturaatio” and the later 17-minute chaoswirl of “Vasemann Käden Hierarkia” offer stylistic breadth as much prog as they are psychedelia or black metal, perhaps the next phase of the latter’s cosmic wing come to fruition. Relatively speaking, the more straightforward “Havuluu” offers listeners a moment to catch their breadth, but the organ-led experimentalism of 10-minute closer “Valveavaruus” gurgles in an exploration of ambient downward plunge. One of the most adventurous black metal releases of 2016, if you can still even tag a genre to it, which I’m not sure you can. A band doing pivotal and forward-thinking work.

Oranssi Pazuzu on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin webshop

Svart Records webshop

 

Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar

karma to burn mountain czar

Though they just got off a lengthy US run, the fact that Karma to Burn’s webstore offers their new Mountain Czar EP in euro instead of dollars could easily be taken as a sign of where the band’s general priorities lie. I don’t know if founding guitarist Will Mecum is actually living abroad or remains in West Virginia, but their label, Rodeostar Records, is European, they maintain a close relationship with German artist Alexander Von Wieding, and their tour schedule keeps a definite continental focus. So be it. Mountain Czar brings five new cuts, three by-the-numbers Karma to Burn instrumentals, the highlight of which is patient, jangly-guitar closer “63,” and “Uccidendo un Sogno,” an Italian-language cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a Dream” sung by guest vocalist Stefanie Savy and featuring Manuel Bissig of Switzerland’s Sons of Morpheus on guitar. Karma to Burn very much remain Karma to Burn throughout, Mecum joined by drummer Evan Devine and bassist Eric Clutter, but they’re changing what that means in interesting ways.

Karma to Burn website

Rodeostar Records

 

Black Mood, Squalid Garden

black mood squalid garden

Comprised solely of guitarist/vocalist Sleaze and drummer Izz, German Southern metallers Black Mood begin their seven-song sophomore outing, Squalid Garden (on Daredevil Records) with a sample of Cornelius from Planet of the Apes quoting the Lawgiver to “shun the beast man,” and so on. By the time they get around to the chugging and warbling “Ohh, save my soul” in second cut “IWNAR,” the Down/Crowbar vibe has been laid on so thick that it’s unmistakable. It’s been seven years since Black Mood made their self-titled debut in 2009 – they had an EP, Toxic Hippies, out in 2012 – but their chestbeating, dudely vibes are easily sourced, even in faster, more Pantera-style moments in “Reflected,” “100 Squalid Garden” or closer “Side,” making the album ultimately a matter of taste for anyone who’d take it on. For me, some aspects ring derivative, others show flashes of individualism, but it’s a very specific vision of Southern metal at work here, and it’s not going to be for everyone.

Black Mood on Bandcamp

Daredevil Records webshop

 

Nebula Drag, Nebula Drag

nebula-drag-nebula-drag

Newcomers Nebula Drag join the ranks of a crowded heavy psych scene in their native San Diego via their self-titled, self-released debut, but the trio distinguish themselves immediately with a solidified underpinning of punkish intent, so that the airy vocals of “Sano” float over an insistent, noisy crunch. That blend is toyed with in one direction or another throughout the release, the five-minute “So Low” finding some middle-ground in grunge push, but as the subsequent “Up and Down”’s Melvins-style roll and the hardcore-style drive of “Lost Time” play out, Nebula Drag seem far less tied to any single approach. It’s a dynamic that serves them well throughout the album’s 10-track/37-minute run, and they maintain a sense of rawness in the almost thrashy breakdown of “I Can Not Explain” that speaks to a lack of pretense to go along with their potential for development. Will be curious to hear if one side or the other wins out in their sound over the long-term, but in a town where so many bands are geared on being the most laid back, it’s refreshing to hear a group with a more forceful tack.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Ommadon, Ommadon

ommadon ommadon

After a series of numbered full-lengths, Glasgow consciousness-stompers Ommadon offer their self-titled sixth album through Dry Cough Records, Burning World Records and Medusa Crush Recordings. Doubtless the three labels were needed in order simply lift the 41-minute, single-song release, which is so unspeakably and ridiculously heavy as to warrant comparison to Buried at Sea’s Migration. Its retching lumber is superlative, and in giving it their name, Ommadon signal (and say outright) that it’s the work they’ve been driving toward all along. Fair enough. There is no moment of relenting from the abysmal intentions of “Ommadon” itself, and if this is to be the piece that ultimately defines the band, it’s one worthy of consideration for the outright extremity it brings to doom, sludge and drone, as well as the methodical nature in which it unfolds. Whatever its ultimate impact, Ommadon have pushed themselves forward and crafted an excruciating contribution that feels like a monolith bent to their will.

Ommadon on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records webshop

Burning World Records

Medusa Crush Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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