Altar of Oblivion Set April 26 Release for The Seven Spirits; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

altar of oblivion

It’s been seven years since Altar of Oblivion released their second album, Grand Gesture of Defiance (review here), and apparently the Danish outfit decided that’s long enough. The Seven Spirits will be issued backed by the ever-reliable taste of Shadow Kingdom Records this coming Spring, and they’re advancing its arrival and marking the opening of preorders by streaming the title-track now. You can take a listen at the bottom of this post, because that’s how it goes, and dig into the very metal cover art and album info below.

Of course, it all comes courtesy of the PR wire:

altar of oblivion the seven spirits

ALTAR OF OBLIVION set release date for long-awaited new SHADOW KINGDOM album, reveal first track

Shadow Kingdom Records sets April 26th as the international release date for Altar of Oblivion’s massively anticipated third album, The Seven Spirits, on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats.

Altar of Oblivion are simply one of the best pure METAL bands around right now. The Danish kings proved it with 2012’s classic Grand Gesture of Defiance album, they proved it with the teasingly short Barren Grounds EP in 2016, and they prove it more than ever with The Seven Spirits. Arguably more so than any of their no-less-considerable and widely celebrated records, here Altar of Oblivion skillfully glide from morose ‘n’ mournful DOOM to absolutely EPIC and daresay regal traditional metal, safely evading any cliches or easy classification whilst reverently adding to the rich and enduring lexicon of heavy metal. If anything, this is as close to total ’80s metal as the band have gotten – but as always, done in that special Altar of Oblivion way.

In many ways, each of the seven tracks comprising The Seven Spirits is a tale in its own right, rife with both bloodlust and tragedy, redemption and remorse. They wind along many roads, some darker than others, with a robust ‘n’ rumbling heft that’s simply Altar of Oblivion’s heaviest production to date. And yet, for all this fleet-footed thunder, those seven songs remain as passionate and emotional as anything around. Just hearing Mik Mentor’s pipes is believing, and on The Seven Spirits, the frontman delivers a performance like no other. These songs could bring you to tears – or galvanize you to conquer any foe before you. The choice is yours across these 41 unforgettable minutes!

Seven years is an interminable length of time between albums, but when the standards are as high as they are with Altar of Oblivion, there’s just no arguing against perfection. Behold The Seven Spirits and bow before their majesty! Begin bowing with the new title track “The Seven Spirits” HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp, where the album can be preordered. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Altar of Oblivion’s The Seven Spirits
1. Created in the Fires of Holiness
2. No One Left
3. Gathering at the Wake
4. The Seven Spirits
5. Language of the Dead
6. Solemn Messiah
7. Grand Gesture of Defiance

www.facebook.com/altarofoblivion
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Altar of Oblivion, The Seven Spirits (2019)

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Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion: Augmenting Reality

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective kybalion

It makes sense somehow that after 12 years and countless studio and live releases, Øresund Space Collective would at last go transdimensional. The vehicle for the beginning of their evolution into a noncorporeal cybernetic form is called Kybalion, and actually the title refers to the book of Hermetic philosophy teaching, among others, the principle of mentalism that puts thought as the basis for, well, everything, but either way, they sound thrilled to make the trip. Featuring eight songs and an 80-minute 2LP run, it was recorded in Nov. 2016, at either the same session or concurrent gathering to when the somewhat amorphous improv jam unit put down what became late 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here). That’s by no means the first time Øresund Space Collective have gotten more than one record out of a session — 2016’s Visions Of… (review here), Different Creatures (review here) and Ode to a Black Hole (review here) were all recorded over a period of three days in Oct. 2014 — so there may yet be more to come from the Nov. 2016 session.

Either way, they certainly give plenty to chew on in extended jams like 21-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Open the Door and Ride,” and as alluded to at the outset, they’re working in multiple dimensions. The Space Rock Productions vinyl and a special edition of the CD come with cover art and extra artwork that works with an augmented reality app to give a 3D art experience, the cover coming to life as Øresund Space Collective synth wizard and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller speaks in echo about the mentalism and the power of thought in the universe and so on. Even the labels of the LP itself see the artwork of Batuhan Bintas (CyberRabbit) come to life. It looks to be remarkably well done, and as the cover is filled with various iconography, there’s plenty to dig into, from blue Venus to a rocking future Stephen Hawking and acid guru Owsley Stanley on what seems to be a cosmic bicycle.

As to the songs themselves, on the whole they’re shorter snippets than Øresund Space Collective sometimes manifest, but whether it’s the funky guitar and violin in the 17-minute “Take a Trip” or the classic rock flair to the extended guitar lead in “Open the Door and Ride,” there is a sense of personality to each jam that stands it out among its peers, whether it’s the running water sounds and later psychedelic thrust of “Pixie Dust,” the more forward synth of and motorik beat of “Down the Tube” or the sci-fi wash of “Sequencing the Human Brain,” synth and keyboard intertwining along with pulled bluesy guitar notes and an ultra-psychedelic crux that pushes the drums deep into the mix to let the ambience hold sway. Two sort-of-interludes appear as the second and second-to-last tracks, with “Drop It – Tropical Flavour of the Month” and “New Tropical Flavor” that indeed are named for the surf sound of the guitar, and they’re quick at under three minutes apiece and do well to tie together some of the disparate sides of Kybalion.

The band must have a million of these “usable moments” hanging around from their periodic get-in-the-studio-and-hit-record sessions, but the “Tropical” duo are put to effective use here. The last cut and the just the third out of the eight to touch the 10-minute mark is “Smooth Future,” and while, again, it’s relatively short at 10:10, it’s a gorgeous and serene note to end on, with synth gently cascading in and out in a slow-motion swirl as violin and guitar accent each other and the drums and bass hold together a steady and laid back space rocking outward progression. It comes to a pretty fervent push in its final minutes, but by the time they get there, the sense of drift is so palpable that there’s really nothing overstated about it, and they end, as the title indicates, smooth, with drums, synth and effects-laced guitars gently letting the listener go back to reality.

But who the hell wants to be in reality? Obviously not Øresund Space Collective, or they wouldn’t proffer such resonant sparefaring jams in the first place. As always for them, the music is improvised, and that exploratory sensibility has come to define their work. I have no doubt that they have their bumps in the creative road, and when I called pieces “snippets” above, that wasn’t an accident Even as “Pixie Dust,” “Down the Tube” and “Sequencing of the Human Brain” reach over nine minutes long, they feel like glimpses of longer jams, fluid moments captured on tape. Behind September’s Live in Berlin 2018 (review here) and May’s Chatoyant Breath (review here), Kybalion is the third Øresund Space Collective offering of 2018 — though Dr. Space also had a second solo album out — and it may or may not be the final collection culled from that Nov. 2016 session, but either way, for its multi-phase presentation and its as-ever glimpse at the big-bang moment of the creative process, the very beginnings of the spark that for many becomes the foundation of verses or choruses, the collective’s latest astrojazz/krautronaut excursion should well please fans looking to bask in the grand kosmiche chill that unites the various strings of galaxies and mind, thought and form.

Recent past outings have seen them partnered with former Siena Root/Indian classicist multi-instrumentalist KG Westman (Hallucinations Inside the Oracle) and guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man (Chatoyant Breath), but Kybalion reminds that so much of the appeal of Øresund Space Collective in the first place comes from the chemistry happening in the moment the jams are taking place, in that marriage between the ephemeral and the ethereal, their music seeming to speak to something so timeless while also being fleeting and gone the moment it’s put down, since, inevitably, the same improvisation can’t happen twice. Their megajams continue to stand them out in the sphere of heavy psychedelia and space rock, and while I don’t know the next time Øresund Space Collective will get together for a few days in Copenhagen or elsewhere, they only ever seem to push themselves further into the greater reaches of Far Out, and I can hear nothing in Kybalion to indicate their expansion will stop anytime soon.

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion AR demonstration

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion (2018)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Papir Enter Studio for New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I can’t help but wonder what the next studio album from Papir will bring. The Copenhagen-based progressive instrumentalists kind of blew the doors open with 2017’s V (review here) as regards the spaces their sound explores, and they’ve always been a forward-thinking band, so as they’re aligned to the progressive-minded Stickman Records and with Nicklas Sørensen also venturing into a string of solo releases, it seems fair to expect a new Papir outing to have a broad reach. The last one certainly did. Also the one before that. And the one before that. Etc.

So while I go ahead and get my hopes up, we’ll see as more solid release dates come around when the album is done and all that. But it’s in progress, and I have little doubt that “progress” is the right word for what’s happening. Here’s looking forward as one so often does at the beginning of a year.

Stickman sent word down the PR wire. Dig it:

papir

Papir in studio

We’ve received word that Papir is already back in the studio recording what will become their 6th studio record! Last year, the band released their first album with us (their fifth – V) and in 2018 we reissued their first. Undoubtedly one of the most unique bands in psychedelic rock – if one can even call it that, with their recent tendencies towards atmospheric soundscapes – we’re looking forward to seeing what the band has been working on!

Papir has gradually developed their unique vision of instrumental rock over the course of four studio albums, culminating in their first full-length for Stickman Records, the aptly titled “V”. The amazing thing about Papir is how they transform psychedelic music into something new and relevant, something truly unique. Sure, they know their kraut- and prog-rock history, but unlike the majority of bands in the present day psych-rock scene they venture far beyond mere pastiche. Mounting the stage, the trio surprise from the get-go: no fully-tattooed longhairs with ostentatious battle vests or getups in sight – just three clean-cut young men, cheery, authentic. Pretense and image are rendered unnecessary – these guys can play and let their music do the talking. 

Papir is:
Nicklas Sørensen
Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen
Christian Becher Clausen

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://papir.bandcamp.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Papir, V (2017)

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Redwolves Release Future Becomes Past March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

redwolves

Argonauta Records just don’t quit. The Italian label, for at least the last two years, probably longer at this point, has had a steady stream of pickups every couple of weeks and they just don’t stop. How many bands are even on this label now? It’s gotta be north of 50. The latest — although I say that and there’s probably another announcement waiting in my inbox from the PR wire — are Danish heavy rockers Redwolves, who’ll release their debut album through the label in March. That record, Future Becomes Past, would seem to be somewhat self-aware in its title, as there’s definitely a classic edge to their sound, or at least their was as of the four-piece’s 2016 outing, the Walking Roads EP. Of course, they could be talking about any number of things with the name of the album, up to and including the rise of populism in Northern Europe, but either way, the title fits.

And as always, the trusty PR wire brings the release announcement and details:

redwolves future becomes past

Heavy Psych Rockers REDWOLVES Reveal Album Details!

Debut Coming Out March 2019 With Argonauta Records!

Copenhagen based Heavy Psych Rockers REDWOLVES, who just recently announced the signing with powerhouse label Argonauta Records, have revealed the first details about their upcoming debut album! Titled ‘Future Becomes Past’, the band’s first full-length will be seeing the light of day on March 15th 2019.

After the release of their 2016-EP ‘Walking Roads’, a feisty show of REDWOLVES’ particular approach to modern sounding hard hitting Rock n’ Roll – fittingly rounded off by frontman Rasmus Cundell’s intelligent lyrics and distinctive vocals – the Danish quartet already left a first stamp in nowadays rock scene. “This is Rock’n’Roll the way it has to be!” Argonauta’s CEO Gero Lucisano confirms. “While I have listened to the songs of this awesome band the first time, I immediately thought of a modern attitude that sounds so fresh and with no compromise. What you will get here? An exciting group with their roots in Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy sonorities, paying homage to the always killer Scandinavian scene such as the Hellacopters. You have been warned!”

REDWOLVES formed in 2012 and found a musical community in their common affinity for the classic heavy rock and the 00’s new wave of Scandinavian rock. The band’s upcoming album will be a noticeable further development of REDWOLVES’ expression which through the records’ eight songs unfolds itself in a songwriting carrying catchy melodies, energetic and virtuoso musicianship and a modern and analogue attentive production by Jacob Bredahl (Riverhead, LLNN, Rising a.o.).

The band describes their music as “modern classic heavy rock” or at other times “future rock”. Both terms appropriately describes how heavy Rock n’ Roll effortlessly can remain relevant, as long as the classic virtues and a good dose of edge and innovation keep being present. REDWOLVES’ first full-length is a complex record, that shows several aspects of REDWOLVES’ talent for writing songs with both directness, catchy hooklines, dynamics and experimentation. This record will be party, light and joy, but equally despair, darkness and depression – and with good reason….

When REDWOLVES had started off the songwriting for their debut, a brutal incident occurred which was to be determining for the album. On New Years Eve 16/17, singer Rasmus Cundell was the subject of a violent attack which carved its deep traces, both personally and within the band. The event caused a delay of the creative process but at the same time, the band became an important catalyst for pulling through. The lyrics were written after the attack which therefore naturally constitutes the thematic subject matter of the album. On a personal level, the violence spawned a spiral of depressive and fearful thoughts but also on a more general level, the incident initiated a contemplation in regards to the possibilities of agency in a world that appears hostile and destructive.

Even though many of the songs origin from this depressive state, one still senses a path towards the light in the music, and it is this adamant hope that the record will remind you of. As the good sides of life can put depression, hopelessness and contingency into perspective, the negation of life can also put perspective on joy and light: “Especially because we all will perish soon, we must insist on living, partying, loving and not to be conquered by darkness, hate and destruction.” The band explains. “And thus, we must necessarily seek to journey out of the dark again.”

Today REDWOLVES have unveiled the album cover art and tracklist for their ‘Future Becomes Past’:

The tracklist reads as follows:
1. Plutocracy
2. Rigid Generation
3. The Abyss
4. Fenris
5. The Pioneer
6. Voyagers
7. Farthest From Heaven
8. Temple Of Dreams

Coming as CD and Digital Download on March 15th 2019, the album pre-sale will soon start on Argonauta Records, with many more news and first album tunes to follow!

www.facebook.com/Redwolvesband
https://redwolvesmusic.bandcamp.com
www.redwolves.dk
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords

Redwolves, Walking Roads (2016)

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Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019: Electric Citizen Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

esbjerg fuzztival 2019 banner

So, uh, there are 150 tickets for Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019 next May in Denmark. That’s it. 150, total. I don’t have sales figures or anything like that, but I have to think they’ll be gone long before next May comes around. I’ve seen people on the social medias lauding fest — or the fuzzt, as it were — for its sense of curation in the lineup, and I have to agree. Having kept periodic tabs, I’m particularly interested in Electric Citizen being added. I know they’re doing a date in Sweden sometime in the Spring as well, and as they’re RidingEasy labelmates with BlackWater HolyLight, and as both bands have new records out, I have to wonder if they’ll be on tour together in Europe. That’d be a good show, but more to the point here, they fit well in a varied lineup for Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019 that indeed seems meticulous in its mission, importing quality acts of diverse sound while showing loyalty as well to native Danish heavy. It’s not a revolutionary approach, necessarily, bringing in good bands local and otherwise, but it works. And it’ll sell out.

Electric Citizen will return to Europe supporting their 2018 album, Helltown (review here), that found them digging into the heavy rock and regional roots alike. After its somewhat glamified predecessor, Helltown has a pointedly straightforward vibe, but as ever, the band brings a character to their work conveyed through instrumental and vocal presence. It seemed to fly under the hype radar, but they continue to make quality records and it’s good to know they’ll be back out abroad next year. One imagines tour dates are forthcoming.

From the social medias, here’s the Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019 lineup:

esberjg fuzztival 2019 poster

Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019 May 10-11

Huset Esbjerg
Stoner/Desert/Doom/Psych

* THE MACHINE (nl)
* ELECTRIC CITIZEN (us)
* HIGH REEPER (us)
* BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT (us)
* ALASTOR (swe)
* DOMKRAFT (swe)
* MYTHIC SUNSHIP (dk)
* PSYCHLONA (uk)
* SAINT KARLOFF (nor)
* THUNDERWHIP (dk)
* STONE CADAVER (dk)
* VESTJYSK ØRKEN (dk)
+ MORE TBA!

Fuzztival Bands Spotify Playlist: https://tinyurl.com/ycmxpkpj

https://www.facebook.com/esbjergfuzztival/
https://www.facebook.com/events/880111745513014/

Electric Citizen, Helltown (2018)

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019: The Machine to Headline, BlackWater HolyLight, Alastor, Psychlona, Domkraft, High Reeper, Saint Karloff and Thunderwhip Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

esbjerg fuzztival 2019 banner

A slew of lineup adds from Esbjerg Fuzztival 2019, which has said that The Machine will headline, playing Denmark for perhaps the first time in their more than 10 years together. The Netherlands-based trio will take the stage at Huset Esbjerg with their new lineup that includes bassist Chris Both, who recently played his first show with the band stepping into the role. The fest has further filled out its two-day lineup with the likes of Alastor and Domkraft from Sweden — the latter of whom seem like they’re going to be kind of all over the place next year — as well as Saint Karloff from Norway, High Reeper from the States and many more.

Seems like they’re taking advantage of some bands being on tour at that time for the busy Spring fest schedule — one imagines that BlackWater HolyLight, the latest of these additions, will be on the road supporting their 2018 self-titled debut on RidingEasy, which is one of the year’s best — but it seems to be an awesome conglomeration that, again, I have no idea why they asked me to be involved with presenting. You know I’d be posting about it anyway.

But here we are anyhow. Tickets are on sale now and limited.

Announcements from the fest’s social media follow:

esbjerg fuzztival 2019 poster

We are STOKED to announce The Machine will headline Fuzztival in 2019! No introduction needed! We screamed like teenage girls when they agreed to stop by! First time in Denmark, too! (Fact check?)

Please note: The Machine will be filling in for Spelljammer, who unfortunately had to cancel their appearance at Fuzztival.

We have been graced with the presence of the daughters of fuzz. Blackwater Holylight confirmed for Fuzztival 2019!

Let the mojo rise! Psychlona added to the bill! Having just released their vinyl on the danish label Cursed Tongue Records they have set out to prove there’s a desert in ye olde England! The groove is real!

Next on the bill: Domkraft. Wielding a mindbending soundscape of obeliskian riff-majesty, Domkraft discharge layer upon layer of crushing fury, weaving through the wormhole punctures of spacetime.

Fuzztival are proud to present Alastor! Get your occult doom on!

Northern stoners Saint Karloff will be taking the riffs to a whole new stage, with local legends ThunderWhip bringing the old school doom! Ramping up to a great fest!

https://www.facebook.com/esbjergfuzztival/
https://www.facebook.com/events/880111745513014/

The Machine, Rehearsal Video Dec. 2018

BlackWater HolyLight, BlackWater HolyLight (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

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

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

Liquid Visions on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

Dawn of Winter on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

Pale Heart on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

Slowbro on Thee Facebooks

Creature Lab Records website

 

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