Domkraft, Flood: Torrential Downpour

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

domkraft flood

Listening to some of their more crunching riffs, Domkraft are easy enough to lump into the category of post-Monolord undulation, big tones and spacious vocals on a song like “The Watchers” seeming to make the Stockholm trio kin to that Gothenburg outfit. That, however, is less than half of the whole story. Domkraft‘s approach, especially on their second album and Blues Funeral Recordings debut, Flood, is a melting pot of modern heavy. Yes, that heft is there, but even more so throughout the seven-song/41-minute outing is a sense of drift and space rock thrust, a heavy rocking swing and bounce, an element of noise rock and post-metal in some of the shouted vocals and plenty of psychedelia throughout.

With rhythmic repetition, the trio of guitarist Martin Widholm, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland and decidedly-not-named-Martin drummer Anders Dahlgren affect a sense of nodding hypnosis from the outset of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Landslide,” which seems to earn its title via the consuming wash of wah and massive crashing riff in its second half — either evoking or causing the titular devastation; it’s hard to tell which. Either way, the earth moves, but as huge as its riffing is — and it’s not just at the end either; dig that turn at about 3:03 into the total 9:56 — that leadoff also performs the essential function of introducing the more sprawling aspects of Domkraft‘s sound. Those, along with the crush, the style and layout of cover art, the use of a well-placed interlude, etc., are things Flood carries over from 2016’s debut LP, The End of Electricity (review here), which was released by Magnetic Eye Records, but there has been a shift in the production as well as in the reach of the songs themselves, and Flood pushes farther out into open terrain even as it seems so ready to pummel the listener into those same grounds.

One might think of “Landslide” as a companion-piece to “The Rift,” which gloriously opened the debut, and it’s no less effective in establishing the tones and breadth on which what follows continues to build throughout the remaining six tracks. It is a natural progression from one to the next, and in that way emblematic of what is accomplished throughout Flood as a whole. Both “The Watchers” and the subsequent title-track are shorter and represent a momentum-building between them that simplifies some of the moves from “Landslide” but still ties to that song in terms of the elements at play, whether it’s the wah in “The Watchers” amid the Neurosis-style shouts from Wegeland or the tonal heft that they seem to make bounce in “Flood” itself, showing themselves as unafraid to play to heavy rock traditionalism despite being so outwardly modern in their approach. That is, it’s okay to like a fuzzy riff and a locked-in groove. No one’s going to yell at you. The sense of forward motion through both “The Watchers” and “Flood” is crucial, but no less so is the centerpiece interlude “They Appear to Be Alive” (one wants to put an ellipse before the last word of the title: “They Appear to Be… Alive,” if only for dramatic effect), which is less than 90 seconds long but serves in its sort of winding guitar mini-swirl to emphasize Domkraft‘s trance-inducing aspects and the psychedelic flourish that has been accompanying the sonic heft all along.

domkraft

It’s a slowdown, or a breather, after the apex of “Flood” and its downhill push with “The Watchers” following “Landslide,” but it efficiently reorients the listener and prepares them, almost unknowingly, for the second half of album. Already, though, we see the band’s modus is not unlike the match-lighting seabeast adorning Flood‘s cover, with multiple tentacles connected to a three-eyed, somewhat monstrous whole, like an Octorok from Zelda but with better graphics to seem all the more fierce as it belches smoke and carries — tellingly — a hook. Domkraft have a few of those as well, and though their songs aren’t immediately chorus-based in let’s-get-this-verse-out-of-the-way-so-we-can-get-to-why-we’re-really-here fashion, they nonetheless cast a memorable impression that all the more distinguishes the fluid balance of their material, shifting between styles while creating a cohesive entirety from them.

Side B begins with the tempo manipulations of “Sandwalker,” turning first to more of a pushing instrumental chorus and then into a sprawling pre-midsection guitar solo. Madness ensues. With increasing intensity, Domkraft move into a wash of noise and another solo before hitting the brakes again, and then go back for more speed before the song seems to pull itself apart. The chorus turns out to be the solo — an instrumental hook that proves all the more memorable for being the final statement the 7:29 track makes. That length is important because it speaks to the change in structure on side B. Where the first four songs were like a rollercoaster, climbing up “Landslide” and then rushing down “The Watchers” and “Flood” into the valley of “They Appear to Be Alive,” side B works as bookends. “Sandwalker” and the 8:09 closer “Dead Eyes Red Skies” (not to be confused with the 2013 Tombstones album, Red Skies and Dead Eyes) surround “Octopus,” which at 4:40 is the shortest of Flood‘s non-interlude inclusions. That change gives the album as a whole a more varied personality and the sense that the band are willfully not trying to mirror the two halves on each other, which has become the norm for those willing to put in the effort at all. By going another way, Domkraft make themselves all the more distinct from their peers, and “Octopus” gives a crisp reaffirmation of the effectiveness of its quicker side A counterparts while summarizing the rolling groove that has served the band so well.

The closer answers back with another fervent nod, but also a more patient delivery than most of what Domkraft have heretofore brought forward, allowing the tones to flesh out even as they ready for the next shove. Departure into a particularly psychedelic solo leads to a holdout of some feedback and a surge of riffing that identifies readily as the culmination of the record, getting thicker as it goes with the vocals still cutting through, mellowing out one more time, getting heavy quick, then cutting out altogether to finish with whispers over atmospheric guitar and bass. It’s a chaotic finale, but that’s obviously what it’s meant to be, and Domkraft wield it ably as they have done all along throughout Flood. The album is executed with a level of self-awareness across its span that further underscores that notion, and as Domkraft take this unmistakable step forward, they seem to show no signs of resting in this place either. I wouldn’t be surprised if their next outing found them dug even further into the realms of psychedelic ultraheavy, but that of course is just one of Flood‘s accomplishments on which they might build.

Domkraft on Bandcamp

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Domkraft on Instagram

Blues Funeral Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2018 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 10.05.18

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2018 poster

I can’t remember the last time I went 24 hours without coffee, but here in Oslo, the morning after the first night of Høstsabbat 2018, I’m pretty sure I’m at that mark. Thursday evening I flew out of Boston, got into Copenhagen yesterday morning, connected to Norway and took the Flytoget train into Oslo Central Station and walked from there to the Anker Hotel where I’m staying, about a block and a half away from the Kulturkirken Jakob, where the fest is being held. All that time, no caffeine. Haven’t really had five minutes to get any. I don’t know if there’s coffee at the show. I was too busy yesterday to ask.

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Høstsabbat at the Vulkan Arena. That was crazy. This is another level. Kulturkirken Jakob is literally a church — it is accurately-enough depicted on the festival poster that I recognized it looking out the window of the hotel room — and a large one at that with high ceilings, big altar, a raised pulpit, wood floors, etc. And downstairs, a basement that’s essentially the opposite: low ceiling, cobwebs, concrete supports for the massive structure overhead. And the fest is both aware of and reveling in the difference. With a stage upstairs and a stage downstairs, they’re playing to both ends of the spectrum between grandiosity and no frills volume-assault basement gigs, and with the mix of bands across a range of styles, it totally works. I spoke to fest organizers Ole C. Helstad and Jens Andreas Storaker yesterday, and they both seemed really pleased with how everything has turned out. As well they should be.

It was eight bands, four on each stage rotating back and forth between them. Downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, and so on. No crossovers in the lineup though, so if you wanted to, you could see everything. That was my goal and I’m happy to say it worked out. It went like this:

hostsabbat art

SÂVER

Saver (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The all-caps post-noise sludgers SÂVER announced earlier this week that they will issue their debut LP, They Came with Sunlight, early next year on Pelagic Records. It was far away from a release party, then, but their set in the basement — the Crypt Stage, as it’s being called — was kind of a preview of what’s in store. In the tight space downstairs, the Oslo-native trio unfurled the first of the night’s several genuine volume blasts, a crunch and lurch and Neurosis-style tension cut through only by Markus Støle‘s drums and the shouts of bassist Ole C. Helstad and guitarist Ole Ulvik Rokseth. They were loud enough to shake the floor and packed enough low-end punch to vibrate the plugs in your ears, but there was a cohesive sense of atmosphere as well, and that extends to the album as well. They could be and often were brutally heavy, but there was a depth to that heft as well, so that it wasn’t an all out assault without purpose. It was an early start at 5PM on a workday, but the room was still decently packed, and they gave all present a reason to look out for They Came with Sunlight‘s impending release. I know I will, anyhow.

Hällas

Hallas (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Høstsabbat‘s throwing the doors open as regards vibe was evident from the moment Sweden’s Hällas took the stage. Glammed-out to the point of bassist/vocalist Tommy Alexandersson wearing a cape and metallic-shining boots, the five-piece nonetheless brought classic progressive-edged boogie to life in a way that immediately answered any and all questions about the vitality of retroism in heavy rock. Alexandersson, guitarists Alexander Moraitis and Marcus Pettersson and drummer Kasper Eriksson played down on the stage while keyboardist Nicklas Malmqvist took to the raised pulpit and even worked in a little ultra-appropriate church organ to the proceedings. They came supporting their 2018 full-length, Excerpts from a Future Past, and handled the big stage like absolute professionals. Lush as their sound was, it was an immediate contrast to the rawness of SÂVER back downstairs, and as the evening went on, that only more clearly came into focus as being precisely the intent. Heavy isn’t just dark, or catchy, or loud. Hällas opened the upstairs stage with uptempo kick, danceable groove and a classic feel that seems to become all the more crucial as time goes on.

Krokofant

Krokofant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

And if Hällas made the point, Krokofant only confirmed it with their go-anywhere doom jazz. With Jørgen Mathisen on saxophone, clarinet and keys, Tom Hasslan on guitar and Axel Skalstad on drums, the well-named trio were a gleeful excursion into the outer reaches of weird. There were moments where they reminded my East Coast US ears of Stinking Lizaveta for their ability to keep an overarching groove locked in while also running circles around it in intricate scales, but Krokofant were by and large more angular and mathy-sounding, giving the feeling they were crunching numbers as much as riffs, and still being an awful lot of fun. Whether it was Skalstad looking like his drumkit was his favorite playground or Hasslan every now and again stepping to the fore with a spacious lead, they were an outlier who served that necessary function well, giving yet another definition of “heavy” for the fest’s ongoing creative statement on the subject. I knew nothing about them going into the set and still had fun watching them play, and I was by no means the only one.

Lonely Kamel

Lonely Kamel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you can see Lonely Kamel, do it. That’s the message plain and simple of their live set. I had a feeling Lonely Kamel were going to kick ass, and they did. Four years after putting out Shit City via Napalm Records, the Oslo heavy rockers took the altar supporting this year’s Death’s Head-Hawkmoth (review here) on Stickman, and in so doing gave a reminder that sometimes all you need is songwriting and performance. I don’t mean to make that sound easy, because it isn’t — though Lonely Kamel made it look that way — but it’s true. They’re not a niche band. They’re not really trying to innovate in terms of aesthetics. But they’re excellent at what they do, and they’re tight enough that anything else they did would seem superfluous anyway. They don’t need it. They have songs and they have performance. “Evil Man” from 2011’s Dust Devil (review here) was a highlight, and the hook of “Inebriated” from the new record was recognizable as soon as they hit into it, while “Fascist Bastard” brought an edgier groove to the set. They were locked in, on fire, and whatever other cliche you’d want to put to it, and they too were a lot of fun, but you could also hear their experience in how they played. Their straightforward approach was an excellent grounding point for the rest of the night to come, but also, another distinguishing factor that made them different from everyone else who played. It was that kind of night. Right on.

Domkraft

Domkraft (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Stand and watch and hear Domkraft play for any given three minutes of their set and you might come away with a completely different impression of what they do. Over here, the Swedish trio are digging into post-Monolord nod-of-riff largesse, over there they’re pulling off a Hawkwindian push through the cosmos, and even further on, they’re shouting out aggro noise-laced heavy rock. The key aspect of all of it is that they tie it together. It’s fluid. They make it all theirs. That’s true even more on their impending second record, Flood, which is out Oct. 19 on Blues Funeral Recordings as the follow-up to 2016’s The End of Electricity (review here), which was issued by Magnetic Eye Records, though “Sandwalker” and “Dead Skies Red Eyes” from the new album matched up pretty well down in the Kulturkirken Jakob basement with the punch of “Meltdown of the Orb” and “The Rift” from its predecessor. The three-piece capped off with “The Watchers” and “Landslide,” a reverse ordering of the opening salvo of Flood, and demonstrated all the more their progressive will and encompassing vision of heavy, which they matched with a fervently aggressive lumber and depth of fuzz. They had been one of the bands I was most looking forward to on the night’s bill, and they absolutely delivered.

Spurv

Spurv (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not going to claim to know what night two of the festival will bring or anything, but there’s a good chance that Spurv had the entire weekend’s only trombone. Even Krokofant didn’t have one, jazzy as they were, but as Oslo instrumentalist post-rockers Spurv were playing earlier 2018’s Myra LP in full, trombone and the violin on the other side of the stage were both essential along with the three guitars, bass and drums. There was some kind of metallic underpinning to the material — especially in the drums — but my bottom line in watching their set was there’s very little in this world that can make you want an album you don’t have as much as seeing that album played live. As Spurv ran through their tracks, their energy made so much of post-rock seem silly, as though they were asking, “why would I be gazing at my shoes when I’m making such cool sounds?,” and I found I had no answer for that question. With more than a hint of prog and post-black metal wash, Spurv engulfed the church with a fitting spaciousness and seemed to be ecclesiastic in just the right way for the setting. It was gorgeous. I already regret not buying the record when they finished.

Eagle Twin

Eagle Twin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Certainly the loudest band in the basement. Upstairs was working on a different scale, but I think if you took volume in per-capita measure, they were probably the loudest band of the night overall. I also didn’t realize just how much blues there is in Eagle Twin‘s sound. Their 2018 album, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn) review here, is the occasion for their being in Europe for the next couple weeks, and as they hop from fest to fest to fest, they left no shortage of footprint in Oslo. Even before they started, drummer Tyler Smith‘s line-checking his snare drum required earplugs just to take it, and guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley plugged into every amp and cabinet in the downstairs backline, so yes, much volume there as well. And it’s easy to lose in all that volume, in the riffing and throat-singing and crash, but year, there’s an awful lot of blues to what they do. It was a welcome discovery for one such as myself, who is years late on seeing Eagle Twin live, and I feel like finally doing so has genuinely helped me better understand where their albums are coming from. Time for a revisit to The Thundering Heard, I think.

Toner Low

Toner Low (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I have no problem admitting that by the time Toner Low went on, I felt beat to hell. It had been a long day of travel and riffs, and I had one of those ultra-tired headaches that neither water nor riffs was going to cure. Still, how are you not going to watch Toner Low? The most stoned of the stoner bands, hailing from the Netherlands, essentially played in the dark, as is their wont, and what light there was was tinted weedian green to match their hyperdense riffing and overarching plod. I said it on on the social medias, but it bears repeating: All your tone worship, amp worship, riff worship bands: Toner Low destroys them all and they’ve been doing it for a long time now. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live before, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with what was coming, but to hear that low end bounce off the vaulted ceiling was more than its fair share of incredible, and even exhausted as I was, Toner Low made themselves absolutely indispensable with their chest-rattling lumber and ultra-languid flow. I’ll go ahead and take a new album whenever it’s ready, please. The sooner the better.

Can’t even tell you how much I’ve been falling asleep while putting this together. Because I’ve been too unconscious to know. Sorry for typos, wrong or missing words, etc.

Night two kicks off in a few hours, so I’m going to crash back out and see if I can revive myself at least enough to open both eyes at the same time.

Until then, enjoy the pics after the jump below:

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Domkraft to Release Flood Oct. 19; New Song Streaming

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

domkraft

As they make ready to appear next month at Desertfest Belgium 2018, Swedish trio Domkraft announce they’ve signed on with Blues Funeral Recordings — founded by the enviable tastes and entrepreneurship of Jadd Shickler, who once upon a time started a little company called MeteorCity and thereby helped shaped heavy rock as we know it today — for the release of their second album, titled Flood. They’re streaming a new song from the record now called  “The Watchers,” and one can only hope that The Watchers will respond with a track called “Domkraft,” but in the meantime, the Stockholm outfit will also feature on Magnetic Eye Records‘ impending Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], about which you should stay tuned for more to come around these parts.

Domkraft‘s debut LP, The End of Electricity (review here), was issued in 2016. The PR wire fills in on everything they have going on, and there’s plenty:

domkraft flood

Domkraft share first track from forthcoming sophomore album Flood

Swedish trio Domkraft share the first track from their forthcoming sophomore album Flood.

The album will be the first release on new label Blues Funeral Recordings, founded by former MeteorCity (Truckfighters, Nebula, The Obsessed) cofounder Jadd Shickler.

Domkraft will also appear on Magnetic Eye Records’ massive Pink Floyd homage, THE WALL [REDUX]. Out in November, the song-by-song recreation and reimagining of the iconic Floyd double album features recognizable artists including The Melvins, Mark Lanegan, ASG, Pallbearer, Ruby the Hatchet and Scott Reeder, and includes Domkraft’s rendition of the song, “Empty Spaces.”

Musically, Sweden has always been exceptional at sensing and seizing upon significant moments. And at a time when political chaos and societal unrest have deadened our senses, it takes a band with monolithic, hypnotic power to secure our attention and offer a mollifying score to civilization’s decline. Domkraft are that gloriously massive and land-levelling band.

If debut album The End of Electricity was the soundtrack to the impending apocalypse, then follow-up Flood provides the musical backdrop to armageddon in full, The Purge-style swing. A strong contender to dominate a style some are calling the New Wave of Swedish Doom Metal, Domkraft wield a mindbending soundscape of obeliskian riff-majesty, layer upon layer of crushing fury weaving through the wormhole punctures of spacetime in defiance of beginnings and endings.

Majestic, annihilating, reductive and roaring, Flood merges blackwater tributaries from Neurois, YOB, Monolord, and Windhand into an all-encompassing torrent of nothingness and resignation, but in the most singable, appealing way imaginable. There is no fan of blistering, melodic doom on earth who should be without this record.

DOMKRAFT. Their name combines the Swedish “DOM” for judgement and “KRAFT” for power.

The seeds for this monolithic Stockholm band were planted in Gothenburg, where bassist/singer Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren met while playing in various musical constellations.

Bonding over the likes of Spacemen 3, Monster Magnet, Sleep and Hawkwind, plus a fascination with trudging, 10-minute/three chord songs, they finally came together after each relocated to Stockholm. Drawing from the heaviest of their combined influences, the three spent spent years shaping and crafting a sound that blends towering dirges of annihilating doom, mindbending psychedelia, and hypnotic minimalism.

“Our songs build from one riff, played LOUD, then we add and lose parts to mold it into something powerful,” says bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland. “Focusing on the dramaturgy of the songs, we have clear images in mind when writing, often inspired by films like Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones, Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist and (of course) The Road Warrior, though we never let it interfere with the groove and energy. The results of our songwriting method may differ in shape from one song to the next, but the foundation is always the same — repetition and volume! You’ll eventually get sick of every melody, but grooves are forever.”

Flood will be available on LP and download on October 19th, 2018 via Blues Funeral Recordings.

Artist: Domkraft
Album: Flood
Record Label: Blues Funeral Records
Release Date: October 19th, 2018

01. Landslide
02. The Watchers
03. Flood
04. They Appear To Be Alive
05. Sandwalker
06. Octopus
07. Dead Eyes, Red Skies

Domkraft is:
Martin Widholm – Guitar
Martin Wegeland – Bass & Vocals
Anders Dahlgren – Drums

domkraft.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/domkraftband
https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral
https://www.bluesfuneral.com/

Domkraft, “The Watchers”

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Desertfest Belgium 2018 Completes Lineup; Orange Goblin Headline; My Sleeping Karma & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2018 banner

What do you even say at this point about Desertfest Belgium 2018? “Uh, it’s in Antwerp and we should go?” I’m at something of a loss. The festival has gradually put together one of the most solid lineups I think I’ve ever seen, with High on FireAmenra and now Orange Goblin headlining, and performances from the likes of YOBEnslavedCrowbarElderMy Sleeping KarmaWo Fat, Acid King and Dead Meadow— any of whom, if you told me they were headlining, I’d be like, “Wow that’s awesome and totally deserved.” Plus there are a bunch of bands down on the bottom of the poster I don’t know, which I also love and another whole bunch in between who also kick ass, so yeah, you mean you’ve got NaxatrasCastleChildThe Skull and Sasquatch all kicking around the same place on the same weekend? Who the hell wouldn’t want to be there?

Madness. Sheer madness. Witness:

desertfest belgium 2018 final lineup

Let’s start with the final headliner for our festival. A true mainstay of the stoner circuit, Orange Goblin have spent the last few years since ‘Back From The Abyss’ (2014) touring the world and harvesting souls. The result of this tireless work ethic? ‘The Wolf Bites Back’ released late spring of 2018, considered to be one of the best albums in their career. They’ve truly earned their place at the throne, and DF Belgium will receive them as true kings of the stoner community.

Of course, the same could be said of My Sleeping Karma, another band that has built its reputation by shutting up (literally) and playing the music, night after night after night for years and years. Their 2017 concert album ‘Mela Ananda’ proved once again that a sweaty stage is the best place to experience them, so we’ll gladly provide it.

We fill out the holes in our schedule with a couple of inspired leftfield choices. How about some heady Greek post-rock with traditional folk influences? Villagers of Ioannina City (V.I.C. in short) is a truly undefinable band that will sure surprise quite a few of our fellow Festers. The same can be said of Jozef Van Wissem – are you ready for some heavy experimental drones… on a medieval lute? Jozef will redefine your notions of what is psychedelic music.

Back to more traditional territory, Earth Ship from Berlin will hit you hard with some serious monolithic doom. With Kraków (No) and Domkraft (Sw), we bring you a couple of esteemed riff peddlers from the North.

And what more fitting end to this final announcement, than to round off with a trio of fine Belgian brews for you to taste and savour? Lethvm, WYATT E. and Goddog are three exponents of the local scene that we want you to discover.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/364607267372737/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back” live at Stonefree Festival, June 16, 2018

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Desert Survival: How to Do Psycho Las Vegas on a Budget

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2017 banner

Hey, if you’re going to go broke, let’s face it: You’re not likely to run into many causes as worthy as the lineup culled together for Psycho Las Vegas. It ain’t cheap — any event that advertises a payment plan obviously knows it’s a considerable ask — but whether you’re going to see Slo Burn for their only US gig or King Diamond doing Abigail or Mulatu Astatke because going to see Mulatu Astatke is a life-event, the arguments in favor are plentiful and convincing. Whatever else you want to say, Psycho Las Vegas is the first annually-held American festival with a focus on heavy and underground rock to really establish itself as world class.

That in itself is a reason to support the cause, whether it’s through a day ticket or a pass for the entire weekend, but it doesn’t necessarily lesson the expense of making the trip or staying in one of the US’ most lucrative tourist traps, let alone things like band merchandise, meals and the occasional adult beverage if you’re inclined to have one. The thought of seeing NeurosisSleep and Carcass share a stage over the course of a weekend or watching Conan, the new trio-incarnation of Pentagram and Yawning Man poolside or from the balcony of a room in the Casino Tower is incredible, and after hearing stories from those who undertook the journey in 2016 or attended the prior Psycho California in 2015, the idea wants nothing for appeal. Fiscal issues can be a bummer. By the time August rolls around, I’ll have been out of paid work for two months. I know how it goes.

And I’m hardly the most responsible person when it comes to money, but the truth of the matter is there are ways to mitigate costs for travel, lodging and other concerns, and if the thing preventing you from picking up a ticket to the show has been the seeming impossibility of affording a stay at the Hard Rock or of finding a cheap-enough flight to get there, maybe it’s worth trying to shift finances around to make it happen. Music is important, and when debt collectors are spamming your phone it’s hard to think about the non-cash value of life experiences, but the fact is the bills you need to pay will still be there. The bill with Corrosion of Conformity in a lineup alongside Kylesa‘s Laura Pleasants, Domkraft, Swans, Elephant Tree and Heavy Temple? Much less so.

Here are a few pointers that hopefully can save you a couple bucks. Some of it’s day-one stuff, but things like hotel picks and transportation nuances are good to know either way.

Check it out:

psycho-las-vegas-2017-poster

Flying In
• Buy tickets on a Tuesday for the cheapest rates.
• Use a discount flight search.
• If you can, fly in on Thursday and leave on Monday for better rates, search different days and times to come in and leave.
• Book early. Rates go up in the summer.

Getting There
• Ride apps cost less than cabs.
• The Hard Rock is less than a mile from the airport. Cheap trip anyway.
• There are free shuttles from most Vegas hotels to the strip and tourist attractions.

Staying There
• This one is huge… don’t stay at the Hard Rock if you can’t afford it! Alexis Park, RUMOR, Red Roof Inn are all across the street and cheap. Scope out a position on a map if you need to; that’s what Street View is there for.
• Partner up to share rooms. You’ve got social media and it’s not like you’re going to do more than sleep and (hopefully) shower there anyway. Might as well join forces and save expense where you can.

Drinks
• BYO. Vegas has open-container laws. If you think hooch is too expensive at the Hard Rock, get loaded on the sidewalk before you go in.
• One way or another, hydrate. You’re staying in the desert in August. Don’t be stupid.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Lineup
Abbath, Ace Frehley, Black Anvil, Blood Ceremony, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Buzzov*en, Carcass, Celeste, Chelsea Wolfe, Cirith Ungol, Cloud Catcher, Code Orange, Conan, Corrosion of Conformity, Cough, Cult Leader, Cult Of Luna With Julie Christmas Diamond Head, Domkraft, Earthless, Elephant Tree, Eternal Tapestry, Fister, Floorian, Gatecreeper, GEQ, Gojira, Gost, Graf Orlock, Heavy Temple, Hollow Leg, Inter Arma, Khemmis, King Diamond, Laura Pleasants & Special Guests, Magma, Manilla Road, Merlin, Minsk, Morne, Mothership, Mouth of the Architect, Mulatu Astatke, Murder City Devils, Mustard Gas & Roses, Myrkur, Neurosis, North, Oathbreaker, Pelican, Pentagram, Psychic TV, The Rods, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch, Saturndust, Sleep, Slo Burn, Slomatics, Snail, Sons of Otis, Sumac, Summoner, Swans, The Skull, Toke, Urchin, Usnea, Vhol, Weedeater, Windhand, Wizard Rifle, Wolves in the Throne Room, Yawning Man, Year of the Cobra, Youngblood Supercult, Zeal & Ardor.

http://www.vivapsycho.com
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Pentagram, “Relentless / Broken Vows” Live in Richmond, VA, 2017

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Magnetic Eye Records Adds Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Yawning Man, ASG, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch and More to The Wall [Redux]

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The clock is ticking on the crowdfunding campaign to support the making and release of Magnetic Eye Records‘ upcoming Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], and the NY-based label has broken out some big guns in terms of confirmations for who will take part. Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Ruby the Hatchet, ASG, Yawning Man, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Sasquatch, as well as the likes of Swedish crushers Domkraft, L.A.’s LowFlyingHawks and Ghastly Sound from the label’s own roster — along with the previously-announced Summoner — would seem to only bolster the offering as a whole, for which preorders are being taken directly through the Kickstarter. This is the third of these projects Magnetic Eye has done, and as ever, the scope of the thing is massive and the logistics seem, frankly, nightmarish.

You don’t need me to sell you on shit and you already know this is a cause worthy of your support, so I’ll spare you all that it’s-an-emergency-you-gotta-help-out whatnot, but suffice it to say that this thing happening only makes the world a better place. So there you go.

Here’s the latest update, courtesy of the label:

the wall redux

Magnetic Eye’s ambitious homage to Pink Floyd, THE WALL [REDUX], has gained some serious momentum in the final week of its preorder/crowdfunding campaign. The confirmation of several higher-profile artists, including Greenleaf, Pallbearer, Mars Red Sky, Yawning Man, Sasquatch and Noveller all signing on to bring their distinct voices to the project has prompted the MER to add an exclusive “Best of Pink Floyd” companion LP for Kickstarter backers. This complement to the main THE WALL [REDUX] will feature a range of cuts from throughout the Floyd catalog by even more fantastic artists from the scene and beyond.

There are still a few days left to support the project by pre-ordering one of several versions of the record, all of which will reflect Magnetic Eye’s well-documented aesthetic and penchant for gorgeous vinyl. This also means there’s still time for a final few hush-hush conversations to potentially yield even more intriguing artist confirmations.

To see what an undertaking this has been (and what an amazing spectacle the finished albums will surely be), here’s a quick review of the latest list of confirmed bands and an exclusive first reveal of some tracks, with numerous more still to be announced:

ASG, “Mother”
Domkraft
Ghastly Sound
Greenleaf
Mos Generator
Low Flying Hawks (feat. Dale Crover of The Melvins)
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard
Mars Red Sky, “Comfortably Numb”
Pallbearer, “Run Like Hell”
Ruby the Hatchet, “Pigs” (The Best of Pink Floyd)
Sasquatch
Sergeant Thunderhoof
The Slim Kings (feat. drummer Liberty DeVitto)
Solace, “In the Flesh”
Summoner
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic (feat. Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet)
WhiteNails
Worshipper
Yawning Man
Year of the Cobra

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magneticeye/the-wall-2
store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Mars Red Sky, Alien Grounds short film

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Desertfest Berlin 2017: Elephant Tree, Avon, Domkraft, Bellhound Choir and Desert Mountain Tribe Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

desertfest-berlin-2017

Can we talk honestly about Desertfest Berlin 2017 for a minute? You want to know the terrible truth? Of course you do. You love terrible truths. The terrible truth is I should’ve gone to this fucking festival years ago. I should’ve been there when Gozu went from London to Berlin. I should’ve tagged along with Lo-Pan on their European run. I should be campaigning to go over and embed myself with Lowrider or somebody this year, and even now I’d be about four years late in getting there. At least. Stupid. No money, no time. My loss. Always.

These lineups get stronger and stronger and I sit my fucking cubicle and daydream. That’s what happens. That’s the terrible truth. I’m gonna miss Desertfest Berlin again this year, and London, and Freak Valley, and Duna Jam and Desertfest Belgium and Athens, and Keep it Low and the fests Heavy Psych Sounds is throwing, and a bunch of cool shit in the US — Desert Generator, all that stuff happening in Colorado, Montana, Oregon, the Days of Darkness this fall in Baltimore — because basically I suck. There you have it. The terrible truth. I’m terrible.

Oh yeah, and Desertfest Berlin 2017 has new lineup adds. Here they are:

desertfest-berlin-2017-elephant-tree

As promised, here come 5 new bands that we are proud to add to the DesertFest Berlin 2017 line-up! On Friday 28th, Desert Mountain Tribe (Uk), Elephant Tree (Uk) & Bellhound Choir (Dk). On Saturday 29th Domkraft (Swe) and on Sunday 30th, Avon Desert Rock (Usa). 3-day passes and Saturday tickets are sold out, but we still have a few for Friday and Sunday! Hurry up if you want to be part of this year’s Desertfest Berlin: http://www.desertfest.de/tickets-desertfest-berlin

Desert Mountain Tribe got off to a flying start with early standout track ‘Coming Down’, which was featured on Reverb Conspiracy Volume 2. The band quickly progressed to perform at leading festivals within the psych community and finally released their debut album “ Either That Or The Moon” in the spring of 2016 to a wealth of positive notices. They are now about to release new material…

Desert Rock trio Avon is Alfredo Hernández (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man), James Childs (Airbus, Little Villains) and Charles Pasarell (WAXY). They made their debut early in 2016 with “Mad Marco”, a full-length collection distinct in its still-inimitable Californian style. The music is psychedelic, raw, melodic and has something to say. So if you like heavy desert rock, then you have come to the right place. They will be back with new tunes in April.

Elephant Tree are a relatively new band blasting a combination of ballsy blues rock and heavy riffs, who, after cutting their teeth in the London metal scene, have established a place within the current growing Stoner Metal genre. Their self-tilted sophomore released in April 2016 is spaced out, bizarre, unafraid to expand what doom can be, and featured in many “top of 2016” lists… You guys don’t know them yet, check it out now!

Bellhound Choir is songwriter, singer and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen (ex Pet The Preacher). He released his debut album “Imagine The Crackle” last year, and is now about to release his second effort, “Worried Kid”: a contemporary blues album dealing with the struggles and winding roads of the soul… A record comprised of songs in their most basic form, without filter, without vanity; songs that leads the way into a very human universe, that will unfold, as one gives back.

Domkraft, whose name combines the Swedish “DOM” for judgement and “KRAFT” for power, blasts forth towering dirges of annihilating doom, mindbending psychedelia, and hypnotic minimalism. Their first full-length “The End of Electricity” was released in November 2016 and is a spacious yet crushing mix of grinding riffs, syrupy warmth, blistering power and inexorable motion. Check out their unique vibe as soon as possible !

Also confirmed for our 2017 edition: SLEEP, SAINT VITUS, JOHN GARCIA BAND, BONGZILLA, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, STONED JESUS, LOWRIDER, FARFLUNG, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, DEATH ALLEY, TOUNDRA, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH, 1000MODS, SUMA, RUBY THE HATCHET, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, PONTIAK, WUCAN, GIOBIA, DUEL, GOLD, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GLITTER WIZARD, BASK, ODD COUPLE, RIFF FIST, TSCHAIKA 21/16 + more acts still to be unveiled.

http://www.desertfest.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://woolheads.com/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/desertfest-berlin-2016-early-bird-ticket-action-1/
https://shop3.ticketscript.com/channel/html/get-products/rid/4MGC3S6H/eid/327518/validity/any_day/language/en

Elephant Tree, “Attack of the Altaica” Live, Feb. 8, 2017

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Quarterly Review: 40 Watt Sun, Worm Ouroboros, The Heads, Jason Simon, Danava, Pylar, Domkraft, Picaporters, Deamon’s Child, Fungal Abyss

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

the obelisk winter quarterly review

We press on with the Quarterly Review and writeups #41-50 of the total 60 to be featured. Some considerable names in this batch, as I suppose there have been all along, but one of the functions this feature has come to serve is to allow me a space to offer some comment on bigger records that, let’s be frank, are being covered everywhere in the universe, while fleshing out coverage elsewhere of things like bands’ debuts and some other less-ubiquitous offerings. That’s become the idea anyway. Doesn’t always go like that, but it’s kind of a relief to have somewhere I can put the extra 200 reviews per year rather than miss out. We’ll wrap this one up on Monday, but just because it’s the end of the week and because it’s my general sentiment, thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

40 Watt Sun, Wider than the Sky

40 watt sun wider than the sky

With their second album, the awaited Wider than the Sky, London’s 40 Watt Sun continue to be defined by their depressive expressionism. The six-track/62-minute follow-up to 2011’s The Inside Room (review here) finds guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning), bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch opening with the longest inclusion (immediate points) in the gorgeously mournful 16-minute unfolding of “Stages.” Sonically lush but still somehow raw and minimal in its emotionality, a slow drear sets the tone for what will follow in “Beyond You” and “Another Room,” “Pictures and “Craven Road,” which alternate on either side of the 10-minute mark until closer “Marazion” (3:57) seems to resonate a less-hopeless spirit. More than The Inside Room, Wider than the Sky realizes itself in emotional rather than tonal weight, and while one often identifies these feelings with things cold and grey, it would require a willful blindness not to recognize the humanity and warmth coming through in Walker’s delivery of this material. Wide it may be, but not at all distant.

40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks

40 Watt Sun website

 

Worm Ouroboros, What Graceless Dawn

worm ouroboros what graceless dawn

The duality of Worm Ouroboros’ third album for Profound Lore, What Graceless Dawn, is almost as prevalent as the irony that its title should include the word “graceless” when the 63-minute six-tracker itself is so melodically poised. It’s dark, but hopeful, spacious and compact, challenging but simply and often minimally arranged, patient and emotionally intense, and heavy even as it seems to float from one extended piece to the next on a current of intertwining, nigh-operatic vocals from bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (World Eater) while Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) seems just as comfortable in the quiet midsection stretch of 13-minute centerpiece “Ribbon of Shadow” as in the rumbling payoff of “Suffering Tree” just before. Running from opener “Day” to closer “Night,” What Graceless Dawn is nothing if not coherent, and while the band’s core approach has been largely consistent across their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and 2012’s Come the Thaw, the Bay Area trio maintain a clear commitment to forward-moving artistry that stirs the consciousness.

Worm Ouroboros on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

The Heads, Burning up With: Live at Roadburn 2015

the heads burning up with

I was fortunate enough to be there when UK heavy psych legends The Heads played the Main Stage set at Roadburn 2015 captured on the Burning World Records release Burning up With…, and indeed the preservation of the band’s utter liquefaction of that large room is well worth preserving across the four sides of a double-LP. The only drawback to a vinyl version of their set is that while the individual songs are presented as side-consuming medleys – “Cardinal Fuzz/KRT,” “Gnu/Legevaan Sattelite/U33,” and so on – that still requires some measure of break to flip from one to the next, whereas in the all-at-once linearity of a CD or digital listen, one finds the overwhelming lysergic proceedings intact as they were from the stage, gloriously molten and entrancingly jammed out by the longtime masters of the form. I won’t even attempt to give its spaciousness a proper assessment since just about anything The Heads do is a gift defying impartiality, especially something like this, but yeah, get on it.

The Heads on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Jason Simon, Familiar Haunts

jason simon familiar haunts

Back in 2010, Dead Meadow frontman Jason Simon released an eponymous solo debut on Tee Pee that found him working in a folkish sphere, and his six-years-later follow-up, Familiar Haunts (on Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger), has some of those elements as well on the twanging, finger-plucking “Pretty Polly” and subdued strum of “Seven Sisters of Sleep,” but Simon has also assembled a four-piece band here, and from the pickup of opener “The People Dance, the People Sing,” through the fuzz experimentalism of “Now I’m Telling You” and the airy linear build of the penultimate 11-minute highlight “Wheels Will Spin,” there’s no lack of fullness in the sound. One finds a particularly engaging blend on “Hills of Mexico,” a six-minute rambler that fluidly brings together neofolk and desert ambience, though as Simon and company play sounds off each other in this material, “engaging blend” would seem to be the underlying theme of Familiar Haunts as a whole.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz Records

 

Danava, At Midnight You Die

danava at midnight you die

Over a decade removed from their 2006 self-titled debut and five years past their third album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, one might easily argue that Portland, Oregon’s Danava are due for a full-length release. Sure, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny have toured plenty in that time in the US and abroad, put out splits and so on, and that has consistently and organically grown their fanbase. Sating that fanbase would seem to be the motivation behind the two-song 7” At Midnight You Die (on Tee Pee), on which the titular A-side finds the four-piece making the most of their dual guitars – Meleny and Pete Hughes (Sons of Huns) shredding in proto-NWOBHM fashion – while the B-side takes on the bizarre and foreboding folk ambience of “My Spirit Runs Free,” short at three minutes, acoustic and sourced from 1979’s The Capture of Bigfoot. So yeah, it’s like that. No new record, but a ripper and some delightful weirdness on hand, and I suspect at this point many of their followers will take what they can get.

Danava on Thee Facebooks

Danava at Tee Pee Records

 

Pylar, Pyedra

pylar pyedra

Some bands are just on their own wavelength, and as much as one might be tempted to relate Sevilla’s Pylar to SunnO))) with their robes and their drones, the Spanish troupe’s four-track full-length, Pyedra (on Alone Records), sees them emitting a slew of horrors all their own. Working as a five-piece, Pylar open with “Menga” (10:57), their longest cut (immediate points) and establish a basis of amelodic, largely arrhythmic noise-jazz. There are more straightforward currents in the subsequent rumble and roll of “Megalitos” (10:33), and “Menhir” (9:37) would seem to draw both sides together before “Meteoros” (9:07) rounds out with an airy, horn-topped alternate-universe victory, but the whole of Pyedra remains informed by the way-off-kilter challenge it poses at the outset, and part of the thrill is making your way through with no idea of what’s coming next other than another extended song beginning with the letter ‘m.’ Will be too much for some, but Pylar’s bleak experimentalism assures cultish appeal worthy of those robes the band wears.

Pylar on Bandcamp

Pylar at Alone Records

 

Domkraft, The End of Electricity

domkraft the end of electricity

Proliferating a combination of speaker-punishing low-end riffs and post-rock-derived spaciousness, Swedish trio Domkraft debut on Magnetic Eye Records with the wholesale immersion of The End of Electricity and evoke heft no less substantial than their stated theme. They begin with their two longest tracks (which I guess is double points?) in “The Rift” and “Meltdown of the Orb,” and by the time they’re through them, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren have already doled out a full LP’s worth of nod, which would seem to make what follows after the momentary breather of “Drones” in “Red Lead,” “All Come Hither” the shorter “Dustrider” and closer “We Will Follow” a bonus round – in which Domkraft also dominate. Because its heavy is so heavy and because Wegeland’s vocals arrive across the board as far-back, shouted echoes, it’s easy to lose sight of the ambience that goes with all that roll, but what ultimately gives The End of Electricity such character is that it creates as much of a world as it destroys.

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, El Horror Oculto

picaporters el horror oculto

Back in 2013, Buenos Aires outfit Picaporters made an encouraging debut with Elefantes (review here). They’ve teased the follow-up, El Horror Oculto (on South American Sludge), over the last year-plus with several digital singles, but the album’s arrival hits with a distinct fleshing out of atmosphere, as heard on the grueling second cut “Diferentes Formas de Ostras” or the manner in which the centerpiece title-track departs from its raucous opening into a heavy-psychedelic meander, never to return, feeding off of the structure of “Humo Ancestral” directly before. An interlude “Etude 6” leads into the opening drift of “Ra,” but it’s a ruse as Picaporters offer some of the album’s most driving heavy rock in that cut’s second half, and close out with Sabbath-darkness-via-Zeppelin-noodling on “War is Over,” the trio coming together in a molten psychedelic doom that seems to draw from the various sides they’ve shown throughout without losing sight of pushing further in its summary.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Deamon’s Child, Scherben Müssen Sein

deamon's child scherben mussen sein

It would be a mistake to judge Deamon’s Child’s second full-length, Scherben Müssen Sein (on Zygmatron), by any single one of its tracks, as the German trio makes plain in the dramatic shift from the crushing sludge of “Zucker” into the raw punk thrust of the subsequent “Keine Zeit.” Elsewhere, they find funky footing before punking out once again in “Schweinehund, Kimm Tanz Mit Mir!” and rumble the outing to a finish consuming in its largesse on the 10-minute “Nichts,” so yes, as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), Deamon’s Child hold fast to the sense of the unhinged proffered therein while uniting their material through an intensity that comes across regardless of tempo or surrounding purpose. They are on the beat, not behind it, pushing forward always. That can make Scherben Müssen Sein difficult to keep track of as it moves swiftly through the blast of “Monster” and the manipulated samples of “In Kinderschuhen” toward that finale, but the mission here is far, far away from easy listening, so all the better.

Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks

Deamon’s Child on Bandcamp

 

Fungal Abyss, Bardo Abgrund Temple

fungal abyss bardo abgrund temple

Adansonia Records offers a bonus-track-laden revisit of the 2011 debut release, Bardo Abgrund Temple, from Seattle shroom-jammers Fungal Abyss, whose improvisational sensibility comes through the original four extended cuts with no diminishing of their otherworldly trip-out for the half-decade that’s passed since they first surfaced. Those looking for a US counterpart to European psych-improv outfits like Electric Moon or Øresund Space Collective – i.e., me – would do well to dig into opener “Arc of the Covenant” (20:12) or closer “Fungal DeBrist” (24:07) as a lead-in for the earlier-2016 follow-up, Karma Suture (review here), as well as their companion live outings, but whatever contextual approach a listener might want to take, the instrumental stretch of Bardo Abgrund Temple is a serenely heavy and meandering path to walk, given to bouts of space-rock thrust and long passages of low-end droner nod, as heard on the 10-minute “Timewave Zero,” turned on and duly ritualized in its swirl and far-off vocalizations. A reissue well-earned of a gracefully cosmic debut.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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