Top 20 of 2014 Readers Poll is Now Open!

Posted in Features on December 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 20 of 2014 readers poll (etching by maxime lalanne)

Believe it or not, it’s that time again. Welcome to The Obelisk’s Top 20 of 2014 Readers Poll. Like last year, we’ll be using a point system to tabulate the results, wherein a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one, as well as tabulating the raw votes — so rest assured that come New Year’s Day, we’re going to know what was the best album of 2014. Frankly, I can’t wait to find out.

With the Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll there was never any mystery to it. The number one pick was number one from the first day and never looked back. This time, I feel like there are any number of potential top contenders that could vie for Album of the Year, and in a range of styles. I know I’ve been back and forth on what it should be for my own list — which will be along sometime later in the month — and I’ve got a nerd’s eagerness to find out how some of my own picks stack up to yours.

Thank you in advance to everyone who chooses to participate in this year’s Readers Poll. It’s always kind of nerve-wracking to ask people to type out their top choices, but it’s something that’s gotten bigger every time we’ve done it, and I hope 2014 follows that pattern as well. Any sharing of the link or reposting or anything of the kind is appreciated more than I can say.

Poll stays open until Jan. 1, 2015.

Let’s have some fun:

[THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED.]

As always, the Readers Poll wouldn’t be possible without the diligent efforts of Slevin, whose coding talent is so far beyond my realm of understanding that I can only consider it magic. Please also know that your email address will not be used or kept, it’s simply a matter of verifying one-vote-per-address. All data is wiped clean after the poll is over. Thank you again for being a part of this.

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Caronte Release New Video for “Temple of Eagles”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

caronte

Italian cult doomers Caronte will release their second album, Church of Shamanic Goetia, on Oct. 31 via German imprint Ván Records. Details have yet to surface about the record, which follows a 2013 split with Doomraiser and Caronte‘s 2012 debut LP, Ascension, as well as their 2011 first EP, Ghost Owl, but the four-piece have cut out the middle man and gotten right to the heart of what really matters — i.e., the music — in releasing the new song, “Temple of Eagles,” along with its mystically-themed lyrics. A sample verse:

Along the left hand’s path
I climb through the wormhole
every man has the cosmos within
I’ll keep on expanding to reconnect with it

Yeah, it’s like that. Nothing on Caronte‘s Ascension topped 10 minutes long, so however indicative it might be of the rest of Church of Shamanic Goetia, “Temple of Eagles” is the longest album cut the Parma unit have put out to date. I guess we’ll see how the rest of the record plays out when the time comes. Until then, “Temple of Eagles” feels less Electric Wizard-y than some of what Caronte have proffered before, which bodes well for their coming more into their own sound, all the more since it’s the first audio from the album to be released. More to come, I’m sure.

Enjoy:

Caronte, “Temple of Eagles”

NEW SONG, NEW VIDEO

We are proud to announce the release date of our new album, “CHURCH OF SHAMANIC GOETIA” which will be released by Van Records. The release date is 31/10/2014 for all Europe.

This is the first extract from the album. Thank you all for the support you have always given. Now take a few minutes, get something to smoke and listen.

Soon more news about the release and the dates of our upcoming live performances.

Caronte on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records

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Northern Crown Debut “A Perfectly Realized Torment” from Debut EP In the Hands of the Betrayer

Posted in audiObelisk on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

northern-crown

Floridian trad doom metallers Northern Crown will issue their debut EP, In the Hands of the Betrayer, on Oct. 14. The self-releasing group is comprised of a core duo, guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Zachary Randall and vocalist/lead guitarist Frank Serafine, and to flesh out the short release, they brought in a variety of guest players from guitarist Sally Gates and bassist Randy Piro of Orbweaver to drummer Josh Brown and keyboardist Roberto Celentano, whose contributions to the overall melody greatly enhance Serafine‘s traditional metal vocal style. They wear their influences on their sleeve — as one might expect for a new band out of the gate either in the process of solidifying a lineup or deciding if that’s how they want to go at all — to the point of making the Candlemass cover “Crystal Ball” the centerpiece of In the Hands of the Betrayer, but even to that well-established classic of the genre they bring an innate edge of their own.

Elsewhere on the release, the opening title-track launches with a galloping groove, and the ambient interlude “Approaching, Encroaching Storm” sets the table for the 11-minute closer “To Thee I Give an Orchid” to plunge into organ-laced doomed expanse. Next to that track, the longest piece on In the Hands of the Betrayer is “A Perfectly Realized Torment” at 7:27, the second cut which northern crown in the hands of the betrayertames the back-and-forth pacing of the opener to a consistent riff-led chug, casually influenced by Trouble but interested in a lushness and fullness of sound, and working with an overarching echo that brings to mind some of Solitude Aeturnus‘ classic drama and emotionally weighted push. The song starts heavy and ends heavy, but there’s a building sense to it as the verse appears and then recedes into the dismal ether of riffing and intermittent keys. In the end, “A Perfectly Realized Torment” relies almost as much on keys as guitar to portray the apex, but however they get there, “A Perfectly Realized Torment” displays a lot of the character of the release as a whole and makes a fitting summary of Northern Crown‘s doom in its early going.

Because of that, I’m happy to be able to host the premiere of “A Perfectly Realized Torment” for your streaming pleasure. Please find it on the player below, and doom on:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Northern Crown‘s In the Hands of the Betrayer was recorded by Zachary Randall and Frank Serafine and mixed by Randall. The EP is out Oct. 14. More info at the links.

Northern Crown on Thee Facebooks

Northern Crown’s website

Northern Crown on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk is Five Years Old Today

Posted in The Numbers on January 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t think when this site was launched five years ago today I had any idea of what was going to happen with it. The Obelisk started basically because I was newly out of work and didn’t know what to do with myself in the wake of that. I wanted to write. Since the start, I’ve never really known what’s next, and that has continued to be the case over the last half-decade. As milestones have come up, things like adding the forum, adding the radio stream, etc., it’s really only been after the fact that I’ve been able to sort of step back and realize that any sort of shift has taken place. This is one of those times.

You know what’s coming, and though I say it with some regularity, I never quite feel like it’s enough. The internet is built on anonymity. If I’m lucky enough that your eyes are seeing this somewhere around the world, whether it’s Jersey or New Zealand, there’s a decent chance we’ll never meet. If we do, that’s awesome — please  say hi and I’m sorry in advance for being an awkward weirdo — but I know how it is to read a site like this one and have the author be an abstract, shapeless beyond the text presented, not really a consideration. I’m not saying everyone who looks at this page needs to know who I am or anything like that, just that I hope that if you’ve ever read this site before or if this is your first time here, you know that there’s a human being on the other end who is incredibly grateful to you for doing so.

The Obelisk has become a huge part of my life and a huge part of my every day, and five years on, it’s not only an outlet for writing, but a big piece of how I think about my own identity. I never anticipated that, but I’m not sorry it’s happened. I’m proud of this site, what it has managed to accomplish in its time, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to develop it. I’m amazed at the passionate community that’s developed on the forum, and I think for the five bucks a month I spend to host it, the radio stream is worth the cash for my enjoyment alone, never mind anyone else’s. Thank you. Thank you so much. For checking in every now and again, for reading however often you might, for posting on the forum, listening to the radio, correcting my spelling on somebody’s name or offering suggestions for bands to check out, or to check out your band. For clicking Like or retweeting. All of it. Huge thanks to The Patient Mrs. for her years of rolled-eye indulgence, and to Slevin for his near-constant help in every technical aspect of running the site, from installing WordPress to designing the forum to finding the host for the radio to helping me size the header properly. There are days where The Obelisk is the reason I roll out of bed — over the last five years, more than a few — and I know that would not be the case without the kind of support I have received on every level. Once again, thank you.

I look forward to continuing to say thanks for as long as this lasts, however long it might be, wherever it might go from here, and wherever we might be headed. I’ll probably never be able to convey just how much your support and your involvement is appreciated, but please, please know that it is.

All the best,
JJ Koczan

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, Mournful Cries in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Granted, when it was released in 1988, Mournful Cries had a damn near impossible task in following 1986’s Born too Late, but no matter how you want to look at it, the two are very different records. The eye-catching bright pink of the earlier album cover is replaced by a grand dragon unfolding its wings, guitarist Dave Chandler shows a budding interest in getting on the mic, and instead of the inward-looking judgments of “I was born too late/And I’ll never be like you,” songs like “Dragon Time” and “Shooting Gallery” turned their eye outward, storytelling rather than describing. Maybe that’s simplifying it — certainly there were tracks on Born too Late that examined the world around them and told stories (“The War Starter,” to an extent) — but Mournful Cries wound up with a vibe much changed from its predecessor for coming only two years later.

It was the second of three full-lengths (the Thirsty and Miserable EP arrived directly after Born too Late, in 1987) in Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s first tenure as the band’s vocalist, and with Born too Late on one side and 1990’s V on the other, Mournful Cries is very much the middle child. Vitus was moving away from the simplicity at root in their approach, and the songs were less grounded musically and lyrically as a result. “Dragon Time” is a good example of this — what did Vitus know about a medieval thematic? — but even if it or “The Troll” were intended as metaphors, the simple fact that metaphor was used at all was a step forward, though again, “The War Starter” touched on some of that idea without going quite as far. V would combine both approaches successfully, resulting in landmark Vitus cuts like “I Bleed Black” and “Angry Man,” but Mournful Cries brought elements at work in the band’s sound to the fore that never were there before and never were there again in quite the same way.

I don’t think Mournful Cries gets the kind of acclaim as Born too Late or V, and part of that is down to the lack of an outsider-epic like “Born too Late” or “Angry Man” — “The Troll” is probably as close as the LP gets, and Vitus still play the song live — but it’s got its place in the Saint Vitus canon and for both how it relates to the rest of the discography and what it has to offer on its own level, it’s easily worth another listen.

Please enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, Mournful Cries (1988)

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Mist, Demo 2013

Posted in Radio on December 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are a number of bands out there using the moniker Mist, or one derived from it, but the newcomer Ljubljana five-piece probably have the market for Slovenian doom sewn up. The double-guitar/standalone-vocal traditional doom outfit began in Summer 2012, and last month their two-song debut, Demo 2013, was self-released digitally and on limited CD with artwork and logo design by drummer Mihaela Žitko, who’s joined in the band by vocalist Nina Spruk, lead guitarist Nina Grizoni?, rhythm guitarist Ema Babošek and bassist Neža Pe?an, each of whom aligns to her position to prove the universal natural of doom. Anywhere you go, there’s doom. Spruk sings in English as well, and both “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” prove as accessible in their themes as in their riffs. It’s doomer’s doom for sure, but the riffs are there and the songs lock in dark atmospheres that feel dead set on classic metal adherence.

I don’t you’d call either “Phobia” or “The Living Dead” revolutionary, but they’re well done for being the fivesome’s formative work. With backing whispers from Babošek, Spruk tops a straightforward lurch plays out like half-speed Judas Priest, giving a bleak viewpoint sonically while creating a memorable impression in Grizoni?‘s lead work and the vocal delivery. Mist sound like they’re just getting their start — and indeed they are — but this brief document of their first year finds them already knowing what they want out of their doom, and touching on nuance in how the solos are integrated, such as in the second half as a first-noodling-then-bluesy lead takes over and carries “Phobia” to a feedback drenched section to which Spruk adds some final lines before a quick Saint Vitus-style noise barrage leads the A side to its finish. “The Living Dead” is more upbeat, with a stronger hook that rounds out with the line, “You are the living dead!” calling to mind any number of doomly zombie fixations, among them Scott Reagers‘, though the production has a more modern feel than persistent Vitus comparisons might lead one to believe. I guess throwing Pentagram into the mix wouldn’t help that expressing-modernity cause either, but there’s some of that as well going on in the riffing for “The Living Dead.”

As Mist continue to get their bearings on their approach to the ways and rites of doom — maybe these tracks get pressed as a 7″? — it seems only proper to have them added to the it’s-on-all-the-friggin’-time playlist of The Obelisk Radio. You can check “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” out in that stream or take a listen via the Bandcamp player below. Either way, doom on:

Mist, Demo 2013

Mist on Thee Facebooks

Mist on Bandcamp

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Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll is Now Open!

Posted in Features on December 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. The Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll is now open! Submit your list of your favorite records from this year using the form below, and at the end of the month, the results will be counted up and a final, overall Top 20 will be had!

There are no restrictions on bands, genres, types of albums, vinyl-only, tape-only, whatever. Anything you want to put on your list, whatever you feel deserves your vote, is welcome. We’re doing things a little different this year in that all the lists will be published along with the results of the Top 20, so that everyone’s picks, however obscure or whatever they might be, can be seen and enjoyed by everybody when the time comes.

The polling is also different in that where an album is placed on your list counts too, not just the raw votes. It requires more math, but it’s for a good cause and should hopefully make the final tally even more accurate.

Fill our your picks below, click Submit, and you’re good to go. Happy voting:

[THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.]

As is more or less the case with this whole site, the 2013 Readers Poll wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and coding brilliance of Slevin. It’s his database and his design for the polling itself, and without it, I’d be using an abacus to tabulate results. If you see him at the bar, please buy him a beer and give him a hearty “Thank you sir.”

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re in the States, today is Thanksgiving. Like a lot of American holidays, it’s based around some truly strange and generally unlikely myths, but the ensuing consumerist rampages aside, it’s not nearly as exclusionary as Xmas or as war-culture-celebratey as the Fourth of July, so yeah. It’s also just about the only thing in the fabric of American society that encourages gratitude, and I guess that’s not bad either.

The point I want to make is that if you’re reading this, whether you’re in the U.S. or not, then you have my thanks for supporting this site and being a part of what it’s turned into over nearly the last half-decade. I appreciate it, and in the spirit of the day, I’m thankful for it. I feel both like I say it all the time and like I don’t say it enough, but I continue to be amazed at the level of encouragement, whether it’s someone liking or sharing a post on Thee Facebooks or Twitter, leaving a comment, sending an email, whatever it might be. It’s astounding and it means a lot to me personally. Thank you.

Likely I’ll have one or two posts up tomorrow — at least one to close out the week — but whatever weird semi-historical narrative they have at their base, the next couple days are basically to enjoy family and friends, so I’m going to do that. If you’re celebrating or not, I wish you all the best.

JJ Koczan
Holiday Pursuant Taskmaster

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