Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
If you’d like to make yourself sad this morning, afternoon, whatever, go ahead and take a listen to the streaming live Causa Sui track at the bottom of this post and realize that the limited-to-300-copies-3LP-plus-bonus-10″ version of Live in Copenhagen has already sold through its pressing on preorders. The regular 3LP box is still available, as is the CD for those of us who retain an affection for the format, and honestly, I don’t think there’s much more you really need to know about it other than it’s Causa Sui caught live at the release shows for their last two albums, they cover John Coltraine, and Niklas from Papir sits in on one of the sets. No wonder that shit’s already sold out. I’d buy it twice just to make the point, and I may yet.
Those who heard it will recall that the Danish band’s last live outing, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here), was little short of manna from heavy psych heaven, so it goes without saying that if you haven’t yet gotten your order in for Live in Copenhagen, you probably want to get on it.
And seriously, take a listen to “Eternal Flow” down at the bottom of the post. Might make you sad. Will also make your day.
Causa Sui – Live in Copenhagen – El Paraiso Records
This limited boxset captures Causa Sui at two very special nights: At the release parties of Euporie Tide (2013) & Return To Sky (2016). While the two albums are tight and meticulous sizes, that helped propel the band to the very pinnacle of European stoner-psych, this heavy package documents the band at their most free and adventurous. Since the band seldomly performes live, this may very well be your best chance to experience what the band is capable of at their best! One show is recorded at avantgarde institution extraordinaire Jazzhouse, while the other captures the sounds of legendary underground venue Dragens Hule in a warm summer night of 2013, where the band played in front of a small, ecstatic crowd until the wee hours. Both shows were recorded multitrack with an A-grade selection of mics and mixed and mastered by Jonas Munk.
During these three discs Causa Sui aren’t merely running through classic cuts from the catalogue. Each track is explored, reinterpreted and given new life – often straying far away from its original roots with a fervent energy. One minute the band is bluesy and heavy, the next they’re repetitive and blissed-out or venturing into a cacophony of Albert Ayler-like sax bursts, free-form electronics and feedback. Swedish saxophone player Johan Riedenlow joins both shows and Papir-guitar player Nicklas Sørensen occasionally adds his magic to the Dragens Hule set – including a towering 13-minute version of Eternal Flow, that seems to channel the energy of mid-1970s Popol Vuh, as well as a breezy cover version of Agitation Free’s ”First Communication”.
”Ju-Ju Blues” from the Jazzhouse set is Causa Sui at their most fuzzed out and Hendrixian, reaching new improvisational heights, whereas ”Dawn Passage” feels like an obvious fusion of Tame Impala and Allman Brothers. On the Dragens Hule sets the band goes all the way out! ”Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn” turns Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis into a crazed sludge-fest, and fan-favourites ”El Paraiso” and “Red Valley” appear here in their ultimate versions. To cap things off the band delivers a 17-minute exclusive tribute to John Coltrane’s ”A Love Supreme” featuring both Johan Riedenlow and Nicklas Sørensen.
The vinyl version of Live In Copenhagen comes as three LPs in heavy duty sleeves packed in a deluxe slipcase box. Limited to 1000 copies.
140 minutes worth of music – recorded at the release parties of Euporie Tide & Return To Sky.
Jazzhouse 01 Rip Tide 6:38 02 The Source 4:42 03 The Juice 8:53 04 Mondo Buzzo 8:35 05 Dawn Passage 9:48 * 06 Eugenie 8:00 07 Ju-Ju Blues 10:45
Dragens Hule pt. 1 01 Eternal Flow 13:01 02 El Paraiso 12:20 03 Mireille 7:39 04 Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn 15:22
Dragens Hule pt. 2 01 First Communication 6:30 (Agitation Free) 02 Homage 9:28 03 Red Valley 10:13 04 Euporie 11:58 * 05 A Love Supreme 16:47 (John Coltrane)
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Danish singer-songwriter Christian Hede Madsen made his debut under the Bellhound Choir moniker with the 2015 EP Stray Screech Beast (review here), which marked a radical departure from his band at the time, Pet the Preacher. Where the band had a hard-driving heavy rock foundation, Bellhound Choir turned toward darker country and folk vibes, blues and so on.
He signed to respected purveyor Bad Afro Records for the ensuing first full-length, Imagine the Crackle, which you can stream below, and in April will release his quick-turnaround second outing, Worried Kid, having also formed his own label in the new Salbar Records. Oh yeah, and dude has a novel out. Some people just like to stay busy. I can respect that.
From the PR wire:
BELLHOUND CHOIR TO RELEASE BRAND NEW ALBUM!’WORRIED KID’ COMING APRIL 28th!
On April 28th 2017, singer, songwriter and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen aka BELLHOUND CHOIR will release his second solo album ‘Worried Kid’ – a contemporary blues album dealing with the struggles and winding roads of the soul – and now he announces a special release event at this year’s SPOT FESTIVAL in Denmark.
Bellhound Choir is the sound of where it all began as well as the sound of now. Bellhound Choir is contemporary blues, a kind of folk music that with an eternal voice exposes the trouble of the soul as well as its hopes. Bellhound Choir is songwriter, singer and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen. Madsen is primarily known for his music, partly from his former band Pet The Preacher and now with the solo project Bellhound Choir, which released the debut album “Imagine The Crackle” through Bad Afro Records last year.
Apart from being a musician, Madsen is a man of many other talents – an artist ever interested in finding new ways of expression. He experiments with film, interactive media and not least litterature, which occupies an essential part of his music and beyond. Madsen just recently released the debut novel ‘Mørkeræd’ (‘Fear of the Dark’), which is yet another take on his description of the existential conditions of mankind.
These conditions are equally described on Bellhound Choir´s second album ‘Worried Kid’ – eight songs about being shrouded in darkness, with the shadows chasing you, on the way to something better. An album that revolves around the eternal struggle of being alive and preserving hope. ‘Worried Kid’ is produced by Sebastian Wolff, front man in Kellermensch, who besides producing also contributes with vocals for a duo with Madsen on the album. ‘Worried Kid’ will be released through Madsen´s own label Salbar on April 28th 2017, and the album will be accompanied by a string of cinematic, fictional live-sessions presented on an interactive online platform ahead of the release.
It is ‘Worried Kid’, its stories, the interplay between different media and off course Madsen´s intimate, stripped down performance, which is the heart of the acoustic performance that Bellhound Choir will deliver on the primary Danish showcase event SPOT FESTIVAL in Aarhus, Denmark on May 5th.
More info on the album and additional dates will follow in the time to come.
Last time I heard, April 7 was the appointed release date of the second full-length by Copenhagen cultish doom rockers Demon Head, but The Sign Records seems to have bumped Thunder on the Fields up to Feb. 24. Here I was thinking the band had decided to be generous and give an extra-early preview of the album ahead of its arrival, but the timing actually works out about right. I’ll take it either way, frankly.
The first audio to be made public from Thunder on the Fields, “Gallow’s Omen” hits as a new video suitably rife with creeper imagery and footage that looks both originally captured and culled from the vast public domain, varied in level of grit and origin as it seems to be. It all comes together around the swinging, rolling groove of “Gallow’s Omen,” the track itself, which basks in the ways of classic doom without getting lost in retro redundancies. Demon Head‘s first record, 2015’s Ride the Wilderness (review here), was a sonic blowout of similar cohesion, but I’m looking forward to hearing how Thunder on the Fields builds on what they accomplished their last go. One doesn’t want to speculate not having heard the full release, but I think they’re giving a few hints here.
And the good news — you know, apart from the video, the preorders, etc. — seems to be that we’ll get to find out more about Thunder on the Fields sooner than anticipated. Mark that a win for sure. Just by way of a warning, this one might be NSFW depending on how stuffy your situation is, so use your best judgment.
Demon Head, “Gallow’s Omen” official video
We now have the pleasure of giving you Gallow’s Omen, the first song and video from our coming album Thunder on the Fields. Listen, watch and pre-order the album below:
‘Gallow’s Omen’ is the first single from Demon Head’s second album ‘Thunder On The Fields’ that will be relesed 24th of February on the Sign Records. The song concern situations when fear becomes generalized. Suspicion grows and society searches for enemies within, in an attempt to keep power or rid itself of a certain kind of people: witches, terrorists, heretics, illegals….
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Cheers to Copenhagen trio The Sonic Dawn on signing to Heavy Psych Sounds for the release of their upcoming second album, Into the Long Night. Due in April, the new full-length follows behind Perception (review here), which Nasoni Records issued on Halloween 2015, and which reveled in classic pop-tinged psychedelia, creating a fluid but still coherent impression across its graceful span, whether surfing through “The Mustang” or basking in the sun-soaked drift of “Watching Dust Fall.”
I haven’t the faintest idea what their second record might hold in terms of direction or movement from the first one, but Heavy Psych Sounds posted word to keep an eye out for a somewhat darker approach, and that’s enough to further pique my interest.
Word from the label follows:
THE SONIC DAWN – HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is proud to announce the signing of a new incredible band!
The Sonic Dawn is a trip – a psychedelic mixture of styles, from jazzy sitar pop to heavy acid rock. Expect melodic songs with a 60s flavor, laced with dreamy vocals and delivered with an explosive stage presence.
Since their acclaimed album debut in 2015, The Sonic Dawn has been on several European tours. A highlight of 2016 was opening the notorious Freak Valley Festival, sharing the stage with Graveyard and White Hills. This year they can be experienced all over Europe again, confirmed for some of the best venues and festivals.
The new “Into the Long Night” is the trio’s most ambitious album yet. Written by day and recorded at night during a month of complete isolation by The North Sea, it is as light and gracious as it is dark and mysterious. The journey has just begun.
The band just signed with HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS and ready to release the new album in April 2017.
Cover art and album details will be unveil soon, so stay tuned for more infos!
The Sonic Dawn is: Emil Bureau (guitar, lead vocals) Jonas Waaben (drums) Neil Bird (bass guitar)
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Copenhagen boogie rockers Doublestone have signed to Ripple Music and will release their second album, Devil’s Own / Djævlens Egn on May 12. Late in 2013, the three-piece issued their debut full-length, Wingmakers (review here), to much fairly-earned hullabaloo, and the follow-up outing finds them once more under the tutelage of producer Tony Reed of Mos Generator, also known for his board-work for the likes of Saint Vitus, Seedy Jeezus, and of course his own sundry projects. A lot’s changed in Euro heavy over the last four years, so I wonder how that might manifest in their style, but the first record was loaded with potential either way and it’s cool to see the next step bring them to a new level in working with Ripple, whose reach continues to expand internationally and creatively.
The PR wire takes it from here:
Doublestone Signs World-wide Deal with Ripple Music; New Tony Reed-Produced Album Out in May
Ripple Music is thrilled to announce the signing of Danish retro-heavy rockers, Doublestone to their stellar roster of international bands. Formed in 2011 Copenhagen, Denmark, by long time friends, Jamie and Bo as a duo. Doublestone, later that year became a power-trio as (the cousin) Kristian joined the band. The stoner-rock trio released a few EP’s, and in 2013, joined forces with Mos Generator’s Tony Reed to record their first full length “Wingmakers.”
The debut album was recorded in an old cheese factory’s basement under the city of Copenhagen and catapulted the trio into the international stoner-rock scene, with their 70’s inspired, straightforward hardrock.
Now digging even deeper and going even further under ground, the long awaited second album, was created in the World War II bunker which is now Wolf Ram Studio, produced and mixed by Doublestone and Andreas Krohn, and mastered once again by the legendary by Tony Reed.
“Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn” is finally ready for the world to hear and will be released worldwide by Ripple Music.
MEMBERS: Bo Blond Daugaard – Guitar/Vocals Michael James Bruun – Drums Kristian Blond Møller – Bass/Vocals
Over that last 5 years, Ripple Music has distinguished itself as one of the leading puryeors of heavy rock. With a roster that includes such bands as Wo Fat, Mothership, Freedom Hawk, Roadsaw and more, Doublestone’s Bo says he’s “over the clouds excited to be working with such a label, with such amazing bands and such a reputation for bringing quality music to the scene.”
“Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn” will be released on May 12th, on vinyl, limited-edition, multi-colored vinyl, CD and digital world-wide via MVD Distributors, Ripple Music webstore, Ripple Music Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and distributors world-wide.
Posted in Features on January 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
The poll is closed, the results are counted and the top 20 albums of 2016 have been chosen. Hard to argue with the list as it’s shown up over the course of the past month, so I won’t try. Instead, let me just say thanks to incredible amount of participants who contributed this year.
All told, between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, 612 people added their picks to the proceedings, compared to 388 in last year’s poll. Considering how much that number blew my mind on Jan. 1, 2016, I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about adding another 200-plus lists to the pot. In short, I’m astounded, deeply humbled and so, so, so grateful. I feel like we got enough of a sampling this year to give a genuinely representative showing for where people’s heads have been at, so thank you if you were a part of it.
Thank you as well as always to Slevin for running the poll’s back end and tabulating the results. As ever, the weighting system is one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. You’ll find that list (plus some honorable mentions) below, followed by the raw-vote tally.
And after the jump, as has become the tradition, are the full lists of everyone who submitted, alphabetized by name. I’m in there too. It’s a huge amount to wade through, and even if you thought you heard everything in 2016, it should be more than enough to keep you busy for the next year.
One last note: I’m no statistician. Please allow for these numbers to change over the next couple days on some small level.
Top 20 of 2016 — Weighted Results
1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (375 points)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (368)
3. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (324)
4. Asteroid, III (302)
5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (295)
6. Gozu, Revival (274)
7. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (253)
8. King Buffalo, Orion (244)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (238)
10. Conan, Revengeance (232)
11. Cough, Still They Pray (228)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (218)
13. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (213)
14. Truckfighters, V (206)
15. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (200)
16. Khemmis, Hunted (192)
16. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (192)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (181)
18. Witchcraft, Nucleus (174)
19. Opeth, Sorceress (173)
20. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (159)
Honorable mention to:
Causa Sui, Return to Sky (157)
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (157)
Black Mountain, IV (148)
Mos Generator, Abyssinia (144)
Wretch, Wretch (140)
Look at those tallies for number one and two. That race was close all month. Wo Fat kept out front for the most part, but Greenleaf kept it interesting and Elephant Tree’s debut snuck in there at third, which I love to see, both because it’s their first album and because that record was indeed so great. King Buffalo, another debut, also made the top 10, underscoring those two as bands to watch, and though Brant Bjork, Conan, Asteroid, Neurosis, Gozu and Mars Red Sky might be more expected names, they still certainly delivered excellent records, so again, nothing to fight with here. Things flesh out a bit in the 10-20 range, but I don’t think there’s one album on this list you could call is “miss.”
Top 20 of 2016 — Raw Votes
1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (109)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (92)
3. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (87)
4. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (82)
5. Asteroid, III (80)
6. Gozu, Revival (76)
7. Conan, Revengeance (73)
8. Cough, Still They Pray (70)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (68)
10. King Buffalo, Orion (67)
11. Truckfighters, V (62)
12. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (61)
13. Khemmis, Hunted (60)
14. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (59)
14. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (59)
15. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (58)
16. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (53)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (49)
17. Witchcraft, Nucleus (49)
18. Opeth, Sorceress (47)
19. Mos Generator, Abyssinia (45)
20. Black Mountain, IV (44)
20. Causa Sui, Return to Sky (44)
20. Wretch, Wretch (44)
Honorable mention to:
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (43)
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (43)
Geezer, Geezer (41)
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies (41)
Gojira, Magma (37)
Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (36)
Graves at Sea, The Curse that Is… (35)
Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy (33)
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae (32)
Vokonis, Olde One Ascending (31)
Left a few more honorable mentions in the raw-vote count, just for fun and so you could get more of a feel beyond the top 20 itself, which you’ll notice has a couple ties in it as the raw votes usually do and reorganizes a bit from the weighted results. One and two remain the same, however, and in the same order, and you’ll see Wo Fat was the only album that scored more than 100 votes on its own. As a whole, there were over 2,400 separate entries for albums this year, which is by far the most spread out that the voting has ever been. Frankly, with so many people involved and such a variety of stuff being voted on, I’m amazed anyone managed to agree on anything at all, but of course they did and once again a stellar list is the result.
Well, Happy New Year.
Before I go, thanks again to Slevin for the work put into running the back end of this site and this poll particularly. I show up with the finish lists, but it’s his code that makes it happen, and his efforts are appreciated more than I can say. Dude has never asked me for anything in the nearly eight years I’ve been a constant pain in his ass.
After the jump, you’ll find everybody’s list, alphabetized by name. Please enjoy browsing. I hope you find something awesome, because there’s certainly plenty in there that qualifies, and if you see something that looks like it appears often enough that it should be included in one or both of the counts above, let me know in the comments.
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Red Fang, Only Ghosts
Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.
After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.
A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.
Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.
Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.
Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.
To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.
Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.
Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.
After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Pleasant surprise out of Copenhagen in the news of a second full-length from boogie-doomers Demon Head. The Danish five-piece made an encouraging debut in 2015 with Ride the Wilderness (review here) as the follow-up to two shorter offerings from the year before,Demo 2014 (review here) and the Demon Head b/w Winterland (review here) single, and though it seems like a quick turnaround now toward the next LP, part of that no doubt stems from the fact that we’re still nearly five months off from the actual release date for what’s been titled Thunder on the Fields, which is out April 7.
That means we’re early yet for things like audio premieres or tracklisting info — though the album seems to have been completed for some time — but we know it’ll be released through The Sign Records and Caligari Records and we’ve got the cover art to go on and a solid date, so that’s enough for me at least to get behind giving a heads up. So yeah, heads up.
From the PR wire:
DEMON HEAD – THUNDER ON THE FIELDS
CD/LP/DIGITAL Out 7th of April 2017
Lightning on the horizon…
On the 7th of April 2017, Demon Head’s new album THUNDER ON THE FIELDS will be released through The Sign Records. The songs were recorded by the Copenhagen band onto 16-track tape, in an isolated cabin where they locked themselves in for weeks in the winter of 2016.
Like its well-received predecessor Ride The Wilderness, the fruit of their communal work is powerfully crafted from start to finish. While the sound stays true to the sinister atmosphere of the debut album, the music has evolved to the next logical step: darker, more tight-knitted, and more diverse. Demon Head is not about trends or imitation. It is about the burning love for music. While in part an homage to the first heavy music, the songs have their own voice. The attitude is of originality and urgency rather than pretense.
Since the beginning, the band has relentlessly travelled on the road and off the beaten path, playing loud, wild concerts with bands from many genres and scenes. In the same way, the influences on THUNDER ON THE FIELDS are hard to pinpoint; many have experienced that nothing sounds quite like the doom-tinged heavy rock of Demon Head, while it retains a strange familiarity of haunting melodies that don’t seem to want to escape the listeners cranium. Comparison is always difficult and limiting, but you might get an idea of the direction if you imagine if the tour bus of Judas Priest had crashed into a whiskey bar where The Doors and Neil Young throw dice with the devil, while The Stooges cover Big Mama Thornton on the decrepit corner stage.
Vinyl, CD, and digital versions will be available worldwide, courtesy of The Sign Records. Cassette tapes will be released through Caligari Records.