The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 38

Posted in Radio on July 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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Good show. As of this writing, I haven’t cut the voice tracks yet for the breaks, but there’s really only so much I can do to screw it up, though I’m sure one way or the other I’ll try. My head’s been pretty deep in longer-form stuff lately — really pushing for that mental-escape aspect of listening — so there’s not a lot here that departs from that, new cuts from  The Atomic Bitchwax and All Souls notwithstanding, as they were both too killer not to include.

But last time around I played “Dopesmoker,” so I guess I don’t need to tell you my head’s into longer songs. Still, with the doomly start this one gets from DopelordMalsten and Pale Divine, and the sheer out-there vibe of OZO after the heavy post-rock of Dystopian Future Movies, and the culmination from the shape-of-metal-to-come brought to bear by Forlesen and the gloriously shapeless psychedelia of Temple Fang right after, I dig this one. I dig all of them, yeah, but this one too.

And as per usual, I hope you do as well.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 07.10.20

Dopelord Doom Bastards Sign of the Devil
Malsten Torsion The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Pale Divine Consequence of Time Consequence of Time
BREAK
The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio Scorpio
Familiars Barn Burning All in Good Time
Dystopian Future Movies Ten Years Inviolate
OZO Pluto Pluto
Spiral Galaxy Machine D Spiral Galaxy
All Souls Death Becomes Us Songs for the End of the World
BREAK
Forlesen Nightbridge Hierophant Violent
Temple Fang Gemini/Silky Servants Live at Merleyn

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is July 24 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Quarterly Review: Sergio Ch., Dool, Return to Worm Mountain, Dopelord, Ancestro, Hellhookah, Daisychain, The Burning Brain Band, Slump, Canyon

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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I don’t imagine I need to tell you it’s been a hell of a quarter, existentially speaking. It’s like the world decided to play ’52 card pickup’ but with tragedy. Still, music marches on, and so the Quarterly Review marches on. For what it’s worth, I’m particularly looking forward to reviewing the upcoming batch of 50 records. As I stare at the list for each day, all of them have records that I’ve legitimately been looking forward to diving into, and today is a great example of that, front to back.

Will I still feel the same way on Friday? Maybe, maybe not. If past is prologue, I’ll be tired, but it’s always satisfying to do this and cover so much stuff in one go. Accordingly, let’s not delay any further. I hope you enjoy the week’s worth of writeups.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sergio Ch., From Skulls Born Beyond

Sergio Ch From Skulls Born Beyond

Intertwining by sharing a few songs with the debut album from his trio Soldati, Doom Nacional (review here), the latest solo endeavor from former Los Natas/Ararat frontman Sergio Ch. continues his path of experimentalist drone folk, blending acoustic and electric elements, guitar and voice, in increasingly confident and broad fashion. The heart of a piece like “Sombra Keda” near the middle of the album is still the strum of the acoustic guitar, but the arrangement of electric and effects/synth surrounding, as well as the vocal echo, give a sense of space to the entirety of From Skulls Born Beyond that demonstrates to the listener just how much range Sergio Ch.‘s work has come to encompass. For highlights, one might check out the extended title-track and the closer “Solar Tse,” which bring in waves of distorted noise to add to the experimentalist feel, but there’s something to be said too for the comparatively minimal (vocal layering aside) “My Isis,” as well as for the fact that they all fit so well on the same record.

Sergio Ch. on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

DOOL, Summerland

Dool Summerland

The follow-up to DOOL‘s 2017 debut, Here Now There Then (review here), does no less than to see the Netherlands-based outfit led by singer Ryanne van Dorst answer the potential of that album while pushing forward the particular vision of Dutch heavy progressive rock that emerged in the wake of The Devil’s Blood, acknowledging that past — Farida Lemouchi (now of Molassess) stops by for a guest spot — while presenting an immersive and richly arranged 54-minute sprawl of highly individualized craft. Issued through Prophecy Productions, it brings cuts like the memorable opener “Sulphur and Starlight” and the dynamic “A Glass Forest” as well as the classic metal chug of “Be Your Sins” and the reaches of its title-cut and acoustic-inclusive finale “Dust and Shadow.” DOOL are a band brazen enough to directly refuse genre, and it is to their benefit and the audience’s that they pull off doing so with such bravado and quality of output. For however long they go, they will not stop progressing. You can hear it.

DOOL on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Return to Worm Mountain, Therianthropy

return to worm mountain Therianthropy

By the time Durban, South Africa’s Return to Worm Mountain are done with 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gh?l” from their second album, Therianthropy, the multi-instrumentalist duo of Duncan Park (vocal, guitar, bass, banjo, jaw harp) and Cam Lofstrand (vocals, drums, synth, guitar, bass, percussion) have gone from High on Fire-meets-Entombed crunch to psychedelic Americana to bare-essential acoustic guitar, and unsurprisingly, the scope doesn’t stop there. “Mothman’s Lament” is folksy sweetness and it leads right into the semi-industrial grind of “Mongolian Death Worm” before “Olgoi-Khorkoi” sludge-lumbers into Echoplex oblivion — or at very least the unrepentantly pretty plucked strings of “Tatzelwurm.” The title refers to a human ability to become an animal — think werewolf — and if that’s a metaphor for the controlled chaos Return to Worm Mountain are letting loose here, one can hardly argue it doesn’t fit. Too strange to be anything but progressive, Therianthropy‘s avant garde feel will alienate as many as it delights, and that’s surely the point of the entire endeavor.

Return to Worm Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Return to Worm Mountain on Bandcamp

 

Dopelord, Sign of the Devil

dopelord sign of the devil

Primo weedian stoner sludge doom of precisely the proportion-of-riff one would expect from Polish bashers Dopelord, which is to say plenty huge and plenty grooving. “The Witching Hour Bell” sets the tone on Sign of the Devil, which is the fourth full-length from the Warsaw-based four-piece. They lumber, they plod, they crash, and yes, yes, yes, they riff, putting it all on the line with “Hail Satan” with synth flourish at the end before “Heathen” and the ultimately-more-aggro “Doom Bastards” reinforce the mission statement. You might know what you’re getting going into it, but that doesn’t make the delivery any less satisfying as Dopelord plod into “World Beneath Us” like a cross between Electric Wizard and Slomatics and of course stick-click in on a quick four-count for the 94-second punk blaster “Headless Decapitator” to cap the 36-minute vinyl-ready run. How could they not? Sure, Sign of the Devil preaches to the choir, but hell’s bells it makes one happy to have joined the choir in the first place.

Dopelord on Thee Facebooks

Dopelord on Bandcamp

 

Ancestro, Ancestro

ancestro self titled

Numbered instrumental progressions comprise this third and self-titled offering from Peruvian trio Ancestro (issued through Necio Records and Forbidden Place Records), and the effect of the album being arranged in such a fashion is that it plays through as one long piece, the cascading volume changes of “II” feeding back into the outset count-in of the speedier “III” and so on. Each piece of the whole has its own intention, and it seems plain enough that the band composed the sections individually, but they’ve been placed so as to highlight the full-album flow, and as Ancestro move from “IV” into “V” and “VI,” with songs getting longer as they go en route to that engrossing and proggy 13-minute closer, their success draws from their ability to harness the precision and maybe even a little of the aggression of heavy metal and incorporate it as part of an execution both thoughtful and no less able to be patient when called for by a given piece. Hard-hitting psychedelia is tough to pull off, but Ancestro‘s Ancestro is no less spacious than terrestrial.

Ancestro on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Hellhookah, The Curse

hellhookah the curse

In 2016, Lithuanian two-piece Hellhookah made it no challenge whatsoever to get into the traditionalist doom of their debut album, Endless Serpents (review here), and the seven songs of The Curse make for a welcome follow-up, with an uptick in production value and the fullness of the mix and a decided affinity for underground ’80s metal in cuts like “Supremacy” and “Dreams and Passions” to coincide with the Dio-era-Sabbath vibes of centerpiece “Flashes” and the nodding finisher “Greed and Power,” which follows and contrasts “Dreams and Passions” in a manner that feels multi-tiered in its purpose. Departing from some of the Vitus-ness of the first full-length, The Curse adopts a more complex tack across its 38 minutes, but its heart and its loyalties are still of doom, by doom, and for the doomed, and that suits them just fine. Crucially, their lack of pretense carries over, and their love of all things doomed translates into every riff and every stretch on offer. If you’d ask more than that of them, well, why?

Hellhookah on Thee Facebooks

Hellhookah on Bandcamp

 

Daisychain, Daisychain EP

Daisychain Daisychain EP

Bluesy in opener “Demons,” grunge-tinged in “Lily” and fuzz-folk-into-’70s-soul-rock on “How Can I Love You,” Daisychain‘s self-titled debut EP wants little for ambition from the start, but the Chicago-based four-piece bring a confidence to their dually-vocalized approach that unites the material across whatever stylistic lines it treads, be it in the harmonies of the midtempo rocker “Are You Satisfied” or the righteously languid “Fake Flowers,” which follows. With six songs and 21 minutes, the self-released outing is but a quick glimpse at what Daisychain might have in store going forward, but the potential is writ large from the classic feel of “Demons” to the barroom spirit of closer “The Wrong Thing,” which reminds that rock and roll doesn’t have to sacrifice efficiency in order to make a statement of its own force. There’s plenty of attitude to be found in these songs, but beneath that — or maybe alongside it — there’s a sense of an emergent songwriting process that is only going to continue to flourish. What they do with the momentum they build here will be interesting to see/hear, but more than that, they’re developing a perspective and persona of their own, and that speaks to a longer term ideal. To put another way, they don’t sound like they’re half-assing it.

Daisychain on Thee Facebooks

Daisychain on Bandcamp

 

The Burning Brain Band, The Burning Brain Band

The Burning Brain Band The Burning Brain Band

Capping with a slide-tinged take on the traditional “Parchman Farm” (see also: Blue Cheer, Cactus, etc.), Ohio’s The Burning Brain Band‘s self-titled debut casts a wide net in terms of influences, centering the penultimate “The Dreamer” around 12-string acoustic guitar on an eight-minute run that’s neither hurried nor staid, but all the more surprising after the electronica-minded “Interlude (Still Running),” which, at four minutes is of greater substance than one might expect of an interlude just as the seven-and-a-half-minute warm-up “Launch Sequence” is considerably broader than one generally considers an intro to an album. There isn’t necessarily a foundational basis from which the material emanates — though “Brain Food” is an effective desert-ish rocker, it moves into the decidedly proggier “Bolero/Floating Away” — but “Launch Sequence” is immersive and the four-piece bring a performance cohesion and a clarity of mindset to the proceedings of this debut that may not unite the songs, but carries the listener through with a sure hand just the same. Who ever said everything on a record had to sound alike? For sure not The Burning Brain Band, who translate the mania of their moniker into effective sonic variety.

The Burning Brain Band on Thee Facebooks

The Burning Brain Band on Bandcamp

 

Slump, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country

Slump Flashbacks from Black Dust Country

Count Slump in a freakout psych renaissance, all punk-out-the-airlock and ’90s-noise thisandthat. Delivered through Feel It Records, the Richmond, Virginia, outfit’s debut, Flashbacks From Black Dust Country indeed touches ground every now and again, as on “Desire Death Drifter,” but even there, the vocals are so soaked wet with echo that I’m pretty sure they fucked up my speakers, and as much as “Tension Trance” tries, it almost can’t help but be acid grunge. In an age of nihilism, Slump aren’t so much unbridled as they are a reminder of the artistry behind the slacker lean, and in the thrust of “(Do The) Sonic Sprawl” and the far-out twist of “Throbbing Reverberation,” they affirm that only those with expanded minds will survive to see the new age and all the many spectral horrors it might unfurl. Can it be a coincidence that the album starts “No Utopia?” Hardly. I’m not ready to call these cats prophets, but they’ve got their collective ear to the ground and their boogie is molten-core accordingly. Tell two friends and tell them to tell two friends.

Feel It Records on Thee Facebooks

Feel It Records on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, EP III

canyon ep iii

It’s a ripper, inciting Larry David-style “prettay good” nods and all that sort of approval whatnot. If you want to think of Canyon as Philly’s answer to Memphis’ Dirty Streets, go ahead — and yes, by that I mean they’re dirtier. EP III boasts just three tracks in “No Home,” “Tent Preacher” and “Mountain Haze,” but with it the classic-style trio backs up the power they showed on 2018’s Mk II (review here), tapping ’70s blues rock swagger for the first two tracks and then blowing it out in a dreamy Zeppelin/Rainbow jam that’s trippy and righteous and right on and just plain right. Maybe even right-handed, I don’t know. What I do know is that these guys should’ve been picked up by some duly salivating label like last week already and they should be putting together a full-length on the quick. They’ve followed-up EP III with a stonerly take on The Beatles‘ “Day Tripper,” and that’s fun, but really, it’s time for this band to make an album.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Rona: Dopelord

Posted in Features on April 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

dopelord

Days of Rona: Dopelord (Warsaw, Poland)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

We’re under lockdown, so yeah, had to change all of our plans. Two tours postponed, pretty gutted about all of this, but this is what had to be done, no arguing here. We’re all healthy, no corona cases.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Gatherings above two persons are prohibited. Two meters distance to be kept all of the time while outside the house. You cannot leave your house if it’s not for an important reason (if you have work outside the house, or do groceries).

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Well, all the events got canceled so there is nothing to do. We’re cannot do rehearsals. We cannot meet. Community is on hold.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Sooner or later it’ll be over. Meanwhile take care of the local venues and clubs. If they’re gathering money to stay alive — help them out.

https://www.facebook.com/Dopelord666
https://www.instagram.com/dopelord_666/
https://dopelord.bandcamp.com/

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 32

Posted in Radio on April 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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Last episode, I did comfort songs the whole way through, new stuff and old, and at the risk of saying something remotely nice about myself, I thought it was the best show I’ve ever done. This time, of course, something completely different.

Yeah, the theme is still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — how could it not be? — but it’s basically me reminding myself that when times are hard, harder, harder than that, still harder, okay-hardest-my-head’s-gonna-friggin’-explode-make-it-stop-make-it-stop, there’s still new music and new music is still awesome.

So here we are. Brand new tracks from Curse the Son, Vine Weevil, Ten Foot Wizard (who emailed me as I was putting the playlist together, as though to emphasize the point), Witchkiss, Dopelord, Nighthawk & Heavy Temple, The Mountain King, High Priestess, Wight, Marmalade Knives, Kanaan, Frozen Planet….1969 and The Swell Fellas. Some of this has been streamed here, some of it hasn’t, but it’s all new and it’s all excellent and I found that this week, at just this particular moment in time, that’s what I needed. It’s that simple, and I hope you can relate.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy. Or even if you just look at the list and find something new to dig on, I hope you enjoy that too. Thanks.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.17.20

Curse the Son Suicide by Drummer Excruciation*
Vine Weevil You are the Ocean Sun in Your Eyes*
Ten Foot Wizard Namaste Dickhead Get Out of Your Mind*
BREAK
Witchkiss Splitting Teeth Splitting Teeth*
Dopelord Doom Bastards Sign of the Devil*
Nighthawk & Heavy Temple Astral Hand VA – Women of Doom*
The Mountain King As Below, So Below Wicked Zen*
High Priestess Invocation Casting the Circle*
BREAK
Wight Motorgroove Spank the World*
Marmalade Knives Rivuleting Marmalade Knives*
Kanaan O?resund Double Sun*
Frozen Planet….1969 900 Mile Head Rush Cold Hand of a Gambling Man*
The Swell Fellas Scatterbrain The Great Play of Extension*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is May 1 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Desertfest Belgium 2019: Zeal & Ardor to Headline; Dopelord and Lo-Pan Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2019 banner

Desertfest Belgium 2019 isn’t quite done with its 2019 lineup yet, but as you can see below, that poster is getting awfully packed, so we must be getting close. With the announcement of Zeal and Ardor signing on to play, they’ve now unveiled the last of their headliners, and thereby signaled a reach that not only includes the very kingpins of stoner metal in Sleep, but also a broader range no less able to wrangle indie-cred via Ty Segall and full-spectrum forward-thinking metal from Zeal and Ardor. Backed by no shortage of righteousness in the realms of doom, psych and heavy — Lo-Pan and Dopelord also included here — it’s already a “well duh it’s gonna sell out” kind of lineup. One has to wonder what other tricks the Antwerp-based event might have left up its sleeve.

Guess we’ll find out:

desertfest belgium 2019 latest poster

Zeal & Ardor headlines Desertfest Belgium!

Were you all waiting for that final headliner to push you over the brink? Because that is what you are getting! Zeal & Ardor must count as one of the most exciting and original rock bands to emerge in the past few years, blending gospel with ear-deafening metal to devastating effect. What started out as a one-man project has now grown into a monstrous live band, and it will be the perfect crown on your first day of Desertfest Antwerp 2019.

Hailing from Poland, Dopelord is a mighty strong proponent of traditional doom with all boxes ticked. Some dark and heavy grooves to get your blaze on – every festival needs ’em, right!

Finally, we present you with two bands that come packed with some fresh sounds. Lo-Pan just released ‘Subtle’ which is already hailed as one of the most exciting stoner releases of this year. A band that knows how to push the envelope with each step they take. The same can be said of Elephant Tree, who are working on new material as we speak. We’re pretty sure you’re all anxious to hear what they come up with next!

That’s NOT all folks, we still have some stuff coming before summer’s in full swing! But seriously – what more do you need? Hit that button below!

IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING TICKETS: the Reduced Combi Tickets are now sold out, and we’ve switched to Regular Combitickets. They can be yours for €115, all costs included! Day tickets remain at the fixed price.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/2260579413999993/

Zeal and Ardor, Live in London

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Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split: Finding a Place

Posted in Reviews on May 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug split

They come from Lublin, from Wroclaw, and from Warsaw, and they bring riffs in bulk, but what’s even more striking about the four-way split from Polish heavyweights Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong and Spaceslug — in that order — is the level of diversity between the bands and just how much of their own personality each one brings to the proceedings. These are four of Poland’s best, to be sure, but by no means representative of the entire underground in the country — that is, they’re not Poland’s only four heavy bands, nor do they represent the entire stylistic swath of their compatriots (Sunnata and Belzebong walk by and wave) — but in terms of groups who’ve emerged over the past five-plus years in order to make an impact on the wider European sphere, they’re a suitable representation, and with an exclusive cut from each act involved, the self-released CD and LP makes an all the more fitting sampler of what Poland’s long underrated scene has to offer. It’s telling that 4-Way Split is a DIY release, and it’s also telling that, having come out in February, most of the LP editions and CDs are mostly if not entirely sold out.

The underlying message would seem to be that Polish heavy deserves a broader look it hasn’t yet gotten, and the audio from each of these bands lives up to that narrative. They each have their own measure of accomplishments and have developed an identity of their own, whether that comes in the form of Dopelord‘s tonal largesse or the grunge-infused melodic wash of Spaceslug, and as this release demonstrates, the bands aren’t so much united by a singular approach — they don’t all sound the same — as they are by the fact that each one has embarked on finding its own place in terms of sound. Some of this can be related to geographic spread, with Lublin, which is home to Major Kong in the west, while Spaceslug‘s native Wroclaw is further east and Warsaw, from whence come Dopelord and Weedpecker is a bit further north on the eastern side of the country. But the diversity of influence would seem to speak more to a general creative will than the fact that these acts simply represent different scenes within the country.

Even just Dopelord and Spaceslug, in opening and closing the release and both representing the capital, have markedly different approaches. It’s the former’s “Toledo” that provides the seven-minute leadoff/longest track (immediate points), and Dopelord, who’ve kicked around since the 2012 release of their debut, Magick Rites (discussed here), show that they, almost in parallel to a band like Monolord have managed to carve an identity for themselves out of a core Electric Wizard influence. There is perhaps a bit of subtle commentary as a sample tops the initial bassline saying, “A city of the dead… the living dead” as “Toledo” gets started, but while what ensues may be informed by zombie horror, its procession is nonetheless emblematic of the band’s reaching toward an international aesthetic, taking something from outside and making it their own. This is essentially the story of how any “scene” organically develops, and as Poland’s scene has over the course of this decade, like Greece or even Australia, Dopelord have helped pave the way for others to follow.

dopelord weedpecker major kong spaceslug vinyl

One might say the same for Weedpecker, who by now have become a progressive enough group that some part of them probably wishes they had a different moniker. 2018’s III (discussed here) was their label debut for Stickman Records, and their “Rise Above” inclusion on 4-Way Split would seem even to push past that offering’s gorgeous melodic wash. Still holding to the weighted tones of their early work, they too would seem to have found their niche in terms of style, and at just five and a half minutes, “Rise Above” conveys that achievement with telling efficiency. It’s at least a minute shorter than anything they had on III, so it might be indicative of some tightening of their craft in the future, or it could just be a one-off. Either way, the flow Weedpecker hone in that relatively brief time is essential to understanding where they come from as a unit and what they bring to this release and Polish heavy as a whole, so mission well accomplished.

Side B leads off with the instrumentalist Major Kong, who bring forth the 6:11 “The Mechanism” and tap into a core modus of riffing that would seem to know no borders. Theirs might be the least nuanced of the four cuts here, but even for the lack of vocals there are backing swirls deep amid low end and other bits of sonic detailing, bass runs, etc., to dig into, and they demonstrate that if you’ve got groove, you’ve got everything. Some of Major Kong‘s work in the past has tended toward a burlier plod — the trio’s last LP was 2017’s Brace for Impact — but “The Mechanism,” while still out to leave a bruise or two, doesn’t want for melody. It is a clear-headed take on instrumental heavy rock that is pulled off with a live-feeling energy and finds the band able to portray a sense of structure even without the use of traditional verses and choruses. No doubt it should, as Major Kong have been at it for the better part of a decade, but the firmness of their purpose is refreshing and shows yet another side of Polish heavy.

Speaking of, I’m not sure another Polish band have come along in this decade who’ve been able to make a mark as quickly as Spaceslug. The three-piece have worked quickly to issue three full-lengths since 2016 — 2018’s Eye the Tide (review here) was among the year’s essential releases — and the 4-Way Split capstone “Ahtmosphere” underscores their ongoing creative growth, with laid back push into a tonal and melodic wash that, even as the central line becomes, “The atmosphere is gone,” indeed wants nothing for ambience. A solo takes hold in the last minute to bring the track toward its drawn-out conclusion — things fall apart, or maybe just roll to a stop — and “Ahtmosphere” rings out to 6:53 to bookend with Dopelord‘s “Toledo” and further highlight the sense of identity so crucial in what these bands are doing.

Each one has their root influences, and each one has done the work necessary to push past them and discover who they really are as a band. That’s not necessarily a process with a solid ending — who they are will inevitably continue to change — but this split feels like a declarative moment on the part of some of Poland’s strongest acts, telling those who care enough to hear them that their home country deserves consideration as a significant contributor to the greater European underground. They make the case well, and loud.

Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split (2019)

Dopelord on Thee Facebooks

Dopelord on Bandcamp

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Weedpecker on Bandcamp

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Major Kong on Bandcamp

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Spaceslug on Bandcamp

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Keep it Low 2019: The Machine, Lo-Pan, Desert Storm and Dopelord Added to Lineup

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

This makes me happy for two reasons. First, Keep it Low has been a regular feature of my autumnal daydreams for years now. The Munich-based, Sound of Liberation-helmed festival, aside from regularly featuring hometown heroes Colour Haze — which would be reason enough to travel — consistently puts together quality lineups with a not-overblown vibe that resonates even to my dopey ass sitting across the Atlantic. So first and foremost, I’m glad they’re doing it again. I don’t they were two weeks outside of Keep it Low 2018 this past October before they were setting the dates for Keep it Low 2019, however, so that’s not exactly news if you keep up on social media.

However. The second reason is that Lo-Pan will be there. The Columbus, Ohio, natives are releasing a new full-length in 2019 that’ll be their first since 2014’s Colossus (review here), and as it stands right now, it’s my most anticipated album of the year. I’m glad to know they’ll be returning to Europe to support it in no small part because that means the record is definitely happening. I know it’s in the can and all that, but making tour plans is a confirming sign nonetheless. One doesn’t book such travel lightly, and I don’t imagine this will be the only Fall fest they play. There are certainly a few around, as subsequent lineup announcements will show.

But any way you look at it, the news is good. So here it is:

keep it low 2019 square

Keep It Low Festival 2019

11. & 12. October 2019
Feierwerk München

Early Bird Tickets sold out! Regular 2-day tickets now on sale.

Here come the first 4 bands confirmed for Keep It Low Festival 2019!

We are thrilled to welcome back the trippy The Machine (who played the very first Keep It Low in 2013), and bring for the first time at Keep It Low, the groovy Lo-Pan (Usa), the gloomy Dopelord (Pl) and the sludgy Desert Storm (Uk)!

Regular 2-day tickets can be purchased right here:
www.keepitlow.de/tickets-keep-it-low
(Limited Hard Tickets & Print-at-home Tickets)

https://www.facebook.com/events/250328939168797/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

The Machine, Faceshift (2018)

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The Top 20 of 2017 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

top-20-of-2017-year-end-poll-results

Happy New Year 2018! If you’re reading this, welcome to the future. Enjoy your flying car, free healthcare, universal income, matter replicators and life on that moon colony you moved to a couple years back — New Berlin, wasn’t it? Well, either way, I’m sure it’s lovely this season.

Way back in the Dark Ages, on Dec. 1, 2017, I put up The Obelisk’s annual Year-End Poll, looking for submissions from as many people as possible with their picks for what were the year’s best albums. The response was once again staggering. Over 400 lists came in — including my own, which I submitted yesterday — for a final tally of 419, and the amount of consensus that emerged from them was no less impressive.

We’ll get there in a second. First, a reminder about the point system. As ever, 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. So it doesn’t only matter that you included a record on your list — the raw votes are also tallied — but where it was included. That only seems fair in acknowledging how passionate people were about a given release.

You know the drill by now I’m sure, but it pays to be thorough. Below you’ll find both the weighted point tally and the raw votes results, followed by some quick honorable mentions, comment, etc. After the jump, you’ll find the complete list of everyone who submitted. If you’d like to check my math on anything, feel free. I’m by no means perfect when it comes to statistics or counting or any of that stuff involving those things that aren’t letters. Whatever they’re called.

Thanks to everyone who took part this year. Here are the lists:

Top 20 of 2017 — Weighted Results

elder reflections of a floating world adrian dexter

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (888 points)
2. Monolord, Rust (397)
3. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (346)
4. Pallbearer, Heartless (327)
5. Colour Haze, In Her Garden (284)
6. Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (256)
7. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (250)
8. The Obsessed, Sacred (248)
9. Sasquatch, Maneuvers (242)
10. Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard (237)
11. Kadavar, Rough Times (236)
12. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (225)
13. Ufomammut, 8 (205)
14. DVNE, Asheran (198)
15. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child (189)
16. Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (163)
17. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma (158)
18. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas (155)
19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable (150)
20. Motorpsycho, The Tower (149)

Honorable Mention:
Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle (144)
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings (134)
Dopelord, Children of the Haze (132)
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun (129)
Mutoid Man, War Moans (123)

No real surprise here, but with the fact that Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World topped 880 points and got more than twice as much as the next closest record, it’s hard to begrudge 2017 some measure of predictability. For what it’s worth, that’s an even stronger showing than their Lore LP got in 2015, and they took the lead on day one and did not relinquish it for the duration. Outside of them and Monolord, who held command of the number two spot for the entire month, there was some measure of parity, but it was clear where hearts and minds were situated in 2017, and certainly difficult to argue with the picks on the whole, regardless of where a given individual ranked one album or the other. Looking at that list of 20-plus, especially with the honorable mentions, I’d sign up for that year every time. It was a good one. Now then…

Top 20 of 2017 — Raw Votes

elder reflections of a floating world adrian dexter

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (207 votes)
2. Monolord, Rust (110)
3. Pallbearer, Heartless (94)
4. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War (88)
5. Kadavar, Rough Times (77)
6. Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard (75)
7. Colour Haze, In Her Garden (74)
8. Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (72)
9. The Obsessed, Sacred (71)
10 Sasquatch, Maneuvers (70)
11. Ufomammut, 8 (67)
12. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (64)
13. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child (60)
14. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (59)
15. Woodhawk, Beyond the Sun (54)
16. DVNE, Asheran (53)
17. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable (48)
18. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas (47)
19. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings (45)
19. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma (45)
20. Dopelord, Children of the Haze (43)
20. Mothership, High Strangeness (43)

Honorable Mention:
Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle (40)
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun (37)
The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field (34)
Beastmaker, Inside the Skull (34)
Motorpsycho, The Tower (33)
Mutoid Man, War Moans (32)

Even less surprising given the above. 207 people of the 419 who submitted lists included Elder somewhere on theirs. It’s pretty hard to get about 50 percent of anyone to agree on anything these days, so I consider that no minor feat. Again, Reflections of a Floating World earned its place, and it was a pretty astounding achievement for the band and the genre they’re working to remake in their own image. A couple minor shifts between the raw tallies and the weighted results as there always are, but again, the underlying point here is that 2017 was a pretty killer year all the way around and across a deep variety of styles, the quality of work being put forth by veterans and newcomers alike was nothing short of excellent.

Before I turn you over to the massive swath of everybody’s lists, I just want to say thanks again to Slevin for being so instrumental in setting up the technical end of this poll. It’s amazing year after year to be able to basically at this point flip a switch and have it all set to go and there’s no way that would happen without Slevin working so hard behind the scenes to put the structure in place that holds this project, the entire site, together. Thanks dude.

And thank you for reading and contributing your favorites of 2017! This is the last of the 2017 Year-End coverage for The Obelisk. If you missed any of it, go here:

The Top 30 Albums of 2017

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2017

2017 Song of the Year

12 of 2017’s Best Album Covers

One more time, thank you for reading. After the jump, please find the raw lists of everyone who took the time to turn one in. Enjoy:

Read more »

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