Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks

Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

bison-you-are-not-the-ocean-you-are-the-patient

Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

Bison on Thee Facebooks

Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

obelyskkh-the-providence

Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

earth-electric-vol-1-solar

Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

olde-temple

After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

Deaf Radio on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

saturndust rlc

The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

Saturndust on Thee Facebooks

Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

birnam wood triumph of death

Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

Posted in Features on June 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top-20-2017-so-far

The time has come to take a look at some of the best albums of 2017 so far. I hardly know where to start. In some ways, this list is harder to put together than the end-of-year one that comes out in December, because by then not only do you have the full year to draw on, but it’s easier to sort of put a narrative to the course of events of 12 months, whereas in this case, obviously, the story is half told. So I guess if the list feels incomplete, that might be part of why.

Even with just six months to work from, the list has become fairly immense. I’ve been keeping track of 2017 releases since about September of last year, and the amount of stuff that’s come through has been staggering. Every year brings good music, and the basic fact of the matter is that if you don’t think so it’s because you’re either unwilling to find it or unwilling to let yourself hear it, but 2017 has been a multi-tiered assault of sounds from all over the world, and it seems like whatever you might be into, the universe stands ready to accommodate.

There’s a lot to say about that — is the market flooded? — but it’s a topic for a different post. I’ll keep it short here and just say that as always, it’s an honor to be covering the stuff that I cover and that I deeply appreciate you taking the time to read. I hope if there’s a release you feel deeply passionate about that you don’t see on my list below that you’ll please let me know about it in the comments.

Also, please note that in order to qualify for this list, a record had to come out on or before June 9. That’s the cutoff.

Okay, here goes:

The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

elder reflections of a floating world

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted

Notes

If you keep up with this site at all, there probably aren’t a lot of surprises in there. These are all records that have been discussed at great length over the last six months, reviewed, streamed, analyzed, whathaveyou’d all the way. If you don’t believe me, search any of the names. Still, as far as my personal picks go and who I think has crafted something special over the last six months, this feels pretty representative to me. I managed to live for a full week with the list as you see it above, without making changes. That’s usually my standard.

And as always, it’s a combination of what I’ve listened to most and what I feel has had the greatest impact thus far into the year. Between the two, there was little doubt Elder would take the top spot. I’ve probably listened to the All Them Witches record more than anything else this year, including Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World, but the truth is the Massachusetts trio are working at a level of their own making in terms of their sonic progression, and that they’ve emerged as one of if not the most pivotal American underground heavy rock bands going. The situation was much the same when they put out Lore in 2015 and claimed that year’s top-album spot, but even since then their sound has expanded and they continue to demand ultimate respect.

As for the All Them Witches album — absolute stunner. The increased depth of their arrangements on Sleeping Through the War came at no expense of songwriting, resulting in ultra-memorable material that could either wash over you with melody or shove you out of your seat with the force of its rhythm, and that band continues to be a treasure. No other way to put it.

From there, we move into what I think are the four best heavy psych offerings of 2017 so far, with Samsara Blues Experiment, Colour Haze, Atavismo and Sun Blood Stories, in that order. Samsara Blues Experiment’s return has been a joy to witness and their first album in four years lived up to the occasion. Colour Haze expanded the palette from their last album with In Her Garden and proved as immersive as always. I’m still getting to know that record. Atavismo’s second full-length upped the progressive influences without losing fluidity or cohesion in songwriting, and Sun Blood Stories’ hypnotic shoegaze offered expansive thrills and a sense of varied, beautifully crafted exploration.

A pair of exciting young bands thereafter in Colorado’s Cloud Catcher, whose boogie is right-on-right-on and whose development continues to hold much potential, and Vokonis, whose crushing riffs on The Sunken Djinn were met with an increased focus on structure and tightening of approach that maximized overall impact. The Obsessed’s unexpected return could only be called a triumphant one, and Mothership’s third long-player found them working in a richer sense of mood than previous outings, adding yet more character to what was still a blast of good-time rock and roll. They round out the top 10 in full command of who they are as players.

Granted, the next 10 releases are kind of all over the place, but I think that just shows the overarching quality of work being done across the board. From Spaceslug’s melodic stoner-psych to Electric Moon’s studio return — so, so, so good — to Alunah’s continued growth in nature-worshiping heavy and Arc of Ascent’s comebacker of rolling heavy riffs and metaphysical themes, there’s been so much to take in. I especially like the pairing of Rozamov and Siena Root as a sense of scope for 2017 so far; the former being so dark and crushing and the latter who lived up to calling their record A Dream of Lasting Peace. You want to know both ends of the spectrum? There they are.

PH’s Eternal Hayden gets a nod for its effective reset of the context of that band following the completion of their trilogy of albums, and Geezer’s Psychoriffadelia might have been something of a tossoff in the making, but the level at which the New York trio jams nonetheless assures it a spot here. Plus, a Nazareth cover. So duh.

I couldn’t help but include T.G. Olson’s Foothills Before the Mountain on the list as the Across Tundras frontman creeps closer to a full-band sound for his solo work, adding to his acoustic singer-songwriter foundations, and the crush of Telekinetic Yeti’s post-Sleep riffing evoked so many nods I thought they deserved one here as well. Placing The Devil and the Almighty Blues was difficult, but especially after seeing them live, I felt like I had a better idea of where they were coming from on II, so knew they belonged somewhere, even if it was tucked in at the end. And of course, Lord. Always killer, always experimenting, always chaotic. Never have grind and sludge sounded more cohesive together. They’re the band I wish Soilent Green had become, and yes, I mean that.

Honorable Mention

Let’s do another 10 releases, shall we?

21. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
22. Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages
23. Brume, Rooster
24. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
25. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
26. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
27. Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
28. Steak, No God to Save
29. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
30. Dool, Here Now There Then

And just to make the point, here are even more worthy of note in this space:

Elbrus, Elbrus
Cortez, The Depths Below
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Child, Blueside (a December 2016 release, maybe, but I think the vinyl was this year, so whatever)
Pallbearer, Heartless
Spidergawd, IV
Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
Loss, Horizonless

There are of course other names as well that come to mind. Like I said at the outset, it’s a crowded field: Hymn, Arbouretum, Green Meteor, REZN, Demon Head, Galley Beggar, Devil’s Witches, Orango, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, Mt. Mountain, Vokonis, Solstafir, High Plains, on and on.

Also worth highlighting several really, really quality live records that have surfaced so far this year. I didn’t really know where to place them among the other studio offerings, but they deserve note for sure:

Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
Enslaved, Roadburn Live

More to Come

Of course, we’re still just barely halfway through the year, so keep on the lookout for more to follow. If you didn’t see my massive 200+ albums to watch for list in January, it has many that have come out and many more still to surface, but here are a few highlight names as well that you’re going to want to keep an eye on in the months ahead:

Queens of the Stone Age
Radio Moscow
The Atomic Bitchwax
Kadavar
Ufomammut
The Midnight Ghost Train
Moon Rats
Clamfight
Egypt
the Melvins
Bison Machine
Seedy Jeezus
High on Fire
Monster Magnet

Thanks for Reading

Before I check out, I’d like to give special mention to Lo-Pan’s In Tensions EP as the best short release of the year thus far. Along with EPs from Godhunter, Kings Destroy, Solace and Shroud Eater, it has assured those seeking a quick fix are handed their ass in return for asking.

Well, that’s about where I’m at with it. As per usual, I’m sure there are things I forgot and/or left off here, because I’m human and whatnot, so please if you have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments so long as you can keep it cordial. No name calling. I’m sensitive and you’ll ruin my whole day. I mean that.

Thanks again for being a part of this and here’s to an excellent rest of 2017.

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Ecstatic Vision to Release Raw Rock Fury April 7; New Single Posted & Tours Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision photo michael connor

Hot damn. Philly space-truckers Ecstatic Vision make a compelling claim over the title of their second record with the first track reveal from it. The album? They’re calling it Raw Rock Fury, which feels way more immediately declarative than did their 2015 debut, Sonic Praise (review here). The song? It’s called “You Got It (Or You Don’t),” and with it, the four-piece seem to be throwing down a seven-minute gauntlet of frenzied kraut-jamming and warp-seven psychedelia.

I like the fact that the record’s only got four tracks on it, I like the fact that they’ve already got a return trip to Europe booked to support it — they’d previously been announced for Desertfest and Sonic Ritual, so we kind of knew a tour was coming — and I like the fact that “You Got It (Or You Don’t)” feels like an immediate forward leap from the last time out. Could it be that Ecstatic Vision have decided to name themselves the new masters of the cosmos? Guess we’ll find out April 7 when the album hits, via Relapse, as did the last one.

From the PR wire:

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

ECSTATIC VISION Announce New Album Raw Rock Fury Coming April 7th via Relapse Records

Unveil First Single “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

U.S. Tour Announced: SXSW and More with Creepoid

Philadelphia’s heavy psych quartet ECSTATIC VISION return with their 2nd LP Raw Rock Fury, the follow up to 2015’s highly acclaimed Sonic Praise.

The band commented on the new album: “With ‘Raw Rock Fury’, we set out to make an album that would remind listeners of what an unpolished, dangerous rock recording should sound like. This is the opening composition entitled “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”. Prepare for a searing mash-up of the driving rhythms of Sly & The Family Stone mixed with the sounds of Hawkwind playing Funhouse-era Troglodyte Rock.”

April 7th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Raw Rock Fury via Relapse Records on CD/LP/Digital. Physical pre-order and bundles are available via Relapse HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered by Bandcamp HERE.

Raw Rock Fury exhibits the band locking in on primordial, troglodyte Detroit rock grooves, krautian motorik sounds that recall the obscure one-time collaboration between NEU and the MC5, grimy harmonica flourishes that evoke Beefheart at his most savage, and the Hawkwindian, primal world heavy psych their debut expertly showcased. All of this is captured on four songs and 35+ minutes of the dirtiest sounding recordings since Kick Out The Jams. Do you miss the days when rock recordings were dangerous? If so, you must crave Raw Rock Fury.

After touring extensively with the likes of YOB, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats and others, ECSTATIC VISION head out again with Creepoid. The leg includes SXSW, Chicago, Denver and more before traveling to Europe for an appearance at Desertfest. All dates available below.

Ecstatic Vision
Raw Rock Fury
Relapse Records
April 7, 2017
Pre-order Here
1 – You Got It (Or You Don’t)
2 – The Electric Step
3 – Keep it Loose
4 – The Twinkling Eye

ECSTATIC VISION Live Dates:
Mar 16-18: Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar 20: Oklahoma City, OK – 89th Street Collective #
Mar 21: Wichita, KS – Kirby’s Beer Store #
Mar 22: Fort Collins, CO – Surfside #
Mar 23: Denver, CO – Hi-Dive #
Mar 24: Salt Lake City, UT – Diabolical Records #
Mar 25-26: Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest #
Mar 28: Omaha, NE – O’Leavers #
Mar 29: Chicago, IL – Subterranean #
Mar 30: Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class #
# – w/ Creepoid

Europe
Apr 21: Roma, IT – HPS Night
Apr 22: Parma, IT – Titty Twister
Apr 24: Trieste, IT – Tertis
Apr 25: Salzburg, AT – Rockhouse
Apr 26: Bologna, IT – Alchemica Club
Apr 27: Olten, CH – Le Coq D’Or
Apr 28: Liege, BE – Garage
Apr 29: Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje
Apr 30: Berlin, DE – Desertfest
May 02: Koln, DE – Limes
May 03: Paris, FR – Glazart
May 04: Lille, FR – Biplan
May 05: Rennes, FR – Mondo Bizarro
May 06: Clermont Ferrand, FR – Raymond Bar
May 09: Sevilla, ES – Sala X
May 10: Louele, PT – Bafo Baraco
May 11: Cascais, PT – Stairway Club
May 12: Madrid, ES – Wulrlitzer Ballroom
May 13: San Sebastian, ES – DABADABA
May 14: Bordeaux, FR – VOID
May 16: Lucerne, CH – Treibhaus Luzern
May 17: Bolzano, IT – Sudwerk
May 18: Zagreb, HR – Vintage Bar
May 19: Ravenna, IT – Bronson
May 20: Milano, IT – BLOOD (Sonic Ritual)

ECSTATIC VISION is:
Doug Sabolik
Michael Field Connor
Jordan Crouse
Kevin Nickles

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.twitter.com/relapserecords

Ecstatic Vision, “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

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Sonic Ritual Fest 2017: Yawning Man, The Cosmic Dead, Giöbia, Ecstatic Vision, Duel and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Heavy Psych Sounds enters the Spring festival game with Sonic Ritual Fest 2017. The announcement of the new fest comes only days after a Heavy Psych Sounds night was also confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2017 (info here), and as Sonic Ritual will take place over the course of two nights in three different cities in two different countries, it’s nothing if not an ambitious rollout. That’s before you get to the lineup, which spans Europe and both coasts of the US in its scope, importing acts like desert rock legends Yawning Man and Philly cosmic rockers Ecstatic Vision to play alongside Scotland’s The Cosmic Dead and Italian spaceheads Giöbia.

Sonic Ritual Fest 2017 is intended as a springtime companion to the fall’s Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, so we’ll have to see over time how the two develop, but the idea off the bat of a multi-city approach over subsequent nights, with two different packages that then converge for one huge blowout is a pretty cool way to start. Heavy Psych Sounds still has two more bands to add to the Athens show for May 19, so I’ll be keeping an eye open to see who makes the cut. Perhaps a native Greek act or two would fit the profile? Could be just about anybody, I suppose. There doesn’t seem to be much that’s out of HPS‘ reach these days.

Info and ticket preorder links follow:

sonic ritual fest 2017

Sonic Ritual Fest 2017

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking Is really happy to unveil the line ups for the SONIC RITUAL FEST

May 19 IT Ravenna-Bronson:
GIOBIA
THE COSMIC DEAD
ECSTATIC VISION
ISTVAN

May 19 GR Athens-An Club:
YAWNING MAN
DUEL
+2 more bands to be announced!

May 20 IT Bloom-Mezzago:
YAWNING MAN
GIOBIA
THE COSMIC DEAD
DUEL
ECSTATIC VISION
DOCTOR CYCLOPS
ANANDA MIDA
THE CLAMPS

PRE SALE NOW AT: http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fest/sonic-ritual/
Sonic Ritual Fest is the new HeavyPsychSounds Spring Fest!
FEATURING: Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Stoner, Heavy Psych
KILLER ARTWORK BY THE MIGHTY Luca Solo Macello

http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fest/sonic-ritual/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Yawning Man, Live in London, Sept. 1, 2016

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Desertfest Berlin 2017 First Announcements: Lowrider, The Cosmic Dead, Toundra, Satan’s Satyrs and Ecstatic Vision Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

desertfest-berlin-2017-first-banner

This was bound to happen. Desertfest Berlin 2017 has made its first lineup announcements. Already we’ve started to see Europe’s Spring festival season start to take shape, and as the German incarnation of Desertfest‘s London-based counterpart has already unveiled its first round of bands, it seems only fitting it should be Berlin’s turn. A return of Lowrider is notable, and frankly so are ToundraThe Cosmic DeadSatan’s Satyrs and Ecstatic Vision, but as someone who keeps holding out hope the vaguely-reformed Swedish heavy rockers will show up one day with a new album, the more shows they do the merrier. One often finds them paired with Dozer at fests — that was the case last time they did Desertfest, in 2013 — so maybe they’ll show up as well in some future announcement. Wouldn’t complain at seeing either again one of these days.

Desertfest Berlin 2017 is April 28-30 at the Astra Kulturhaus. Look for much more to come, including some headliner info next month teased below:

desertfest-berlin-2017-first-poster

Desertfest Berlin 2017 – First Bands Announcements (Lowrider, Toundra, The Cosmic Dead, Satan’s Satyrs, Ecstatic Vision)

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 – APRIL 28-29-30

Last year’s Desertfest Berlin was a great success with people taking part from almost 40 countries all over the globe. You came, you saw, you conquered! Now it’s about time for all you riff-rockers, doom and psych-heads to pump up the volume in your earchannel, because here is the first band announcement!!

LOWRIDER (SWE)
We are stoked to have Lowrider back for our 6th edition of the Desertfest. The band hasn’t play any shows since 2014 and so it´s greater to welcome them back at our festival in Berlin. Even if it’s not about cars, this combo is as powerful as a Chevy 356 engine and will surely tear down the walls of Astra.

TOUNDRA (SP)
Clear your mind for a musical journey with the beautiful soundscapes form the Spanish capital. This exclusive show will end up as one of those you’ll remember for years to come.

SATAN’S SATYRS (US)
Hot rocking Virginia quartet Satan’s Satyrs is releasing a new album in spring and they asked themselves; “Is there any better way to celebrate this than doing it at Desertfest Berlin?” Of course not, so here they come.

THE COSMIC DEAD (UK)
Trippy sounds from Glasgow will emerge when these four guys hit the stage. With a menu raging from psych to powerful cosmic rock, so let’s just pretend we are the space cadets.

ECSTATIC VISION (US)
Bring back the 70’s would be a tempting phrase to use on Ecstatic Vision if you remember bands like Amon Düül II and Hawkwind. Forget all chemical substances, this music is a trip itself.

Stay tuned, by mid-November we’ll be back with a new announcement where some headliners will be unfolded. Last year’s 3-day festival tickets were sold out already early February, so don’t wait too long if you want to come along and experience some of the best acts in the genres of doom, sludge, psych, desert and stoner rock.

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

Lowrider, “Shivaree” live at Desertfest Berlin 2013

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Ecstatic Vision Announce European Tour; Playing Roadburn and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision

Philly heavy psych rockers Ecstatic Vision made an impressive debut last summer on Relapse Records with the full-length Sonic Praise (review here), drawing together elements of space rock, Afrobeat and psychedelic jamming that seemed cosmos-bound from the word go. By the time that record came out, the band had already toured with Enslaved and YOB months earlier, and they followed that run in the fall with one alongside Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and fellow Philly natives Ruby the Hatchet. Clearly they keep good company.

European touring was somewhat inevitable, particularly after they were announced for Roadburn 2016 last fall, and today the word has come out that they’ll get started on April 12 in Germany, just three days after opening the Desert Generator fest in Pioneertown, California. Nothing like going west to go east. I’m not sure if they’ll be on the road abroad with somebody or not, but in addition to Roadburn, they have a few other fests booked and other dates feature the likes of Pentagram and Bang, so it’s fair to say one way or another, Ecstatic Vision continue to pick their associates wisely.

The PR wire brought the news:

ecstatic vision euro tour

Ecstatic Vision Announces Spring European Tour

Philadelphia, PA’s primal heavy psych trio ECSTATIC VISION will head to Europe for the first time this coming Spring in support of their debut album Sonic Praise. The band kicks off its 3-week tour on April 12th in Koln, Germany and will play at numerous festivals including Roadburn (NL), Soundbay (PT), and PSI Festival (DE). Additionally, the band will be appearing at the recently announced Desert Generator Festival in Pioneertown, CA alongside Red Fang, Brant Bjork and Acid King. A full list of dates is available below.

ECSTATIC VISION weave the guitar heroics of the 70’s heavy classics of UFO and Hawkwind with the rhythmic intensity of Sun Ra and Fela Kuti. Massive riffs vibe seamlessly with deep rhythms to create one of the most original and best heavy psych debuts in years. Sonic Praise hit hard, and the band has already toured throughout North America with Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, YOB and Enslaved during its short career.

“Primal Heavy Psych Invasion” Tour Dates:

Mar 11 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus w/ Magic Circle
Mar 19 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
April 9 Pioneertown, CA Desert Generator Festival

Apr 12 Koln, DE Limes
Apr 13 Berlin, DE Lido w/ Pentagram
Apr 14 Dresden, DE Sabotage
Apr 15 Mannheim, DE Psi Festival
Apr 16 Leipzig, DE Liwi Apr 17 Tilburg, NL Roadburn Festival
Apr 18 Kortrijk, BE The PIt’s
Apr 19 Amsterdam, NL Vrankrijk
Apr 20 Lille, FR El Diablo w/ Karma To Burn & Bang
Apr 22 Nantes, FT La Scene Michelet
Apr 23 Luynes, FR Le Corigan
Apr 24 Paris, FR Glazart
Apr 25 Tours, FR The Winchester
April 26 Spain TBA
Aprili 27 Spain TBA
April 28 Spain TBA
Apr 29 Lisbon, PT SoundBay Festival
April 30 Spain TBA
May 1 Spain TBA
May 2 Lyon, FR Le Croiseur
May 3 Strasbourg, FR TBA
May 4 Innsbruck, AT PMK
May 5 Milano, IT Lo fi club
May 6 Verona Officina Degli Angeli
May 7 Lugano, CH Woodstock

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision/
https://ecstaticvision.bandcamp.com/
www.relapse.com

Ecstatic Vision, Sonic Praise (2015)

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Desert Generator Set for April 9; Red Fang, Brant Bjork, Acid King, Golden Void and Ecstatic Vision Playing

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The tradition that Desert Generator is highlighting is evident right in the name of the fest. By now, the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-center-of-everywhere parties from which what we’ve come to think of as California’s desert rock scene emerged are the stuff of heavy lore, and as the “stages” such as they were were powered by gas generators — which, though unreliable, have a certain charm — one would be hard-pressed to think of a better moniker for Desert Generator than the one it has. True to form, it sounds like a killer party.

Set for April 9 with a lineup that features Red FangBrant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk BandAcid KingGolden Void and Ecstatic Vision, the inaugural Desert Generator has a reach immediately beyond the locals of Pioneertown, CA, where the venue it will take place — Pappy and Harriet’s — is located, and with a Rolling Heavy magazine-sponsored van show, an outdoor stage and good times on offer, it seems like an atmosphere perfectly in line with the tripped-out and hard-hitting vibes of the lineup. I’d go. Just saying. I would.

Not sure if they’re making it an annual thing or one-shot-only, but what info there is follows, as yoinked off the fest’s website:

DESERT GENERATOR POSTER

Saturday, April 9th, 2016. Rolling Heavy Magazine, Allnight Allnight, and Brant Bjork bring you DESERT GENERATOR, a heavy, psychedelic, rock & roll happening. We are inspired by the legendary generator parties (from which Brant’s band Kyuss originated) and the 1970’s “van-in” campouts. We got five rad bands and a custom van show – one day and one night of laid back fun. It all takes place in a wild west ghost town & dusty desert cantina in the birthplace of Desert Rock and Doom.

The ROLLING HEAVY VAN SHOW starts at high noon and will feature 1960s & 1970s custom vans, vendors, DJS and more (see next FAQ).

The DESERT GENERATOR concert will start as the sun begins to set on the desert. All bands will perform on the outside stage at Pappy + Harriet’s Pioneertown Saloon near Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley, California.

LINEUP:
Red Fang
Brant Bjork and The Low Desert Punk Band
Acid King
Golden Void
Ecstatic Vision

DESERT GENERATOR TICKET IS REQUIRED for Concert @ Pappy & Harriet’s. Event is All Ages. Free Parking. Made in the USA!

http://www.desertgenerator.com/
http://allnightallnight.ticketleap.com/desert-generator/t/DesertGenerator/
https://www.facebook.com/events/992467330812365/

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, “Buddha Time (Everything Fine)” live at Burg Herzberg 2015

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 debuts of 2015 1

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

I’ll note right away that this list started out as a top 10. When it came to it, it didn’t seem fair to cut it off. Too much left out. It gets to a point where you look at your list of honorable mentions and it’s like three times as long as your list itself and you realize maybe you should up the numbers and give a few more records their due. So yeah, a top 20 it is.

The temptation with a list like this, especially since it’s dealing with bands working on their first full-length albums (EPs are counted separately), is to think of it as indicative of future movement overall, to try and measure some overarching trend from some of the best outings of the year. I’m not sure that’s a fair approach either to the bands who made these records or to everyone else who might come after, but if we step back and look at what’s presented in the list below, we see veterans resurfacing in new incarnations, new, young groups coming together with classic ideologies, a bit of heavy extremity, psych melding with pop, heavy rock going prog and much more.

What all that tells me is that notions like “underground” and “heavy,” these vague terms that get applied so liberally, are constantly expanding. Whatever their individual sound might be, these bands all pushed ahead an overarching stylistic progression in whatever they’re doing, and like the best of debut albums, they held promise for further growth beyond this already impressive output. It’s less about which seems like an immediate landmark, touchstone, whatever, than it is about what sets up and effectively begins that development going forward, though striking a chord in the present never hurts either.

To that end, here we go:

brothers of the sonic cloth brothers of the sonic cloth

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

1. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland
3. Cigale, Cigale
4. Kind, Rocket Science
5. Fogg, High Testament
6. Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
7. CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns
8. With the Dead, With the Dead
9. Demon Head, Ride the Wilderness
10. Sacri Monti, Sacri Monti
11. Stars that Move, Stars that Move
12. Chiefs, Tomorrow’s Over
13. Sunder, Sunder
14. Ecstatic Vision, Sonic Praise
15. Bison Machine, Hoarfrost
16. Serial Hawk, Searching for Light
17. Cloud Catcher, Enlightened Beyond Existence
18. Khemmis, Absolution
19. Sumac, The Deal
20. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

Honorable Mention

By way of honorable mentions, first I have to give a nod to Foehammer‘s self-titled debut EP, which would be on this list probably in the top five if not the top three were it not for the fact that, as noted, it’s an EP. Its list will come. The 2015 release of Horsehunter‘s self-titled on Magnetic Eye was killer as well, but since the album initially came out in 2014, it didn’t seem fair to include it in the list proper.

Releases from Killer Boogie, Snowy DunesSweat LodgePlanes of SatoriDoctoR DooMLasers from Atlantis and Lords of Beacon House (I heard the EP, not the LP) also provided thrills a-plenty, and while I recognize that sounds like sarcasm, please rest assured it’s not. I’m sure there are others, and as always, I reserve the right to tweak mentions and numbers over the next however many days, weeks, years, etc.

Notes

There wasn’t much mystery to this one for me. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth held onto that top spot for most of the year, and it seemed like no matter what came along, the wall of sound that Tad Doyle and company built on that record simply would not be torn down. As oppressive in tone as it is in atmosphere, it was a long-awaited debut that produced devastating results the ripples from which I expect will continue to resonate well into 2016 and beyond.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is one example of a veteran presence finding a new home, as several did this year. See also, Sumac with former members of IsisEcstatic Vision with players from A Life Once LostWith the Dead with members of Cathedral and Ramesses coming together for the first time, Kind drawing its lineup from the likes of RoadsawMilligramRozamov and Elder, and even groups like Sunder, who previously released an album together under the moniker The Socks before abandoning that project in favor of the current one, as well as Sacri Monti, with a member from Radio Moscow in tow, Cigale, who had two members from SungrazerStars that Move which sprang from Starchild, and Death Alley with members of MührGewapend Beton and The Devil’s Blood showcased how one band flows out of another and out of another, and so on.

That Death Alley debut had charm worthy of its title — which was also my favorite of the year — and showed the potential of that band to set up a real stylistic range going forward. I hope they continue to expand, get a little weird and freaked out and keep that core of songwriting and forward drive that makes Black Magick Boogieland so propulsive. For new bands, Cigale‘s self-titled was beautiful, but would later become tinged with tragedy following the death of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets earlier this year. Not to mention friends and family, his is a significant loss for European psychedelia as a whole, and while that was inarguably one of the low points of 2015, the album itself remains a gorgeous statement.

Young acts like FoggDemon HeadBison MachineSunderCloud Catcher and even Sacri Monti showcased varied takes on classic heavy, some more into boogie and jams and some looking for something a little rougher edged. Cloud Catcher‘s progressive take was a particularly pleasant surprise, while Sunder‘s psychedelia teemed with melody and a cohesive presence born out of what could’ve been unhinged otherwise. Between these, the heavy riffing of The Devil and the Almighty Blues and Serial Hawk, the formative fuzz of Chiefs, the resonant doom of Khemmis and the righteous traditionalism of Crypt Sermon, the notion of genres and subgenres as an ever-expanding universe seemed to be playing out on a weekly basis.

This, invariably, leads to new extremes, which in turn brings me to CHRCH. Like Foehammer, whose EP is in honorable mentions, the Unanswered Hymns long-player from CHRCH was a bright spot especially for how little light it seemed to let escape its abyssal grasp. They’re an easy bet for a band to catch on because they’ve garnered a formidable response already, but what sticks out to me most about them is the sense of pushing established parameters into fresh territory. What they’ll do in the months and years to come of course remains to be seen — they could break up tomorrow; it happens — but where a group like Primitive Man are almost singularly based on extremity of pummel and brutality (not to take away from them), CHRCH have the space in their sound for a multi-faceted progression, and that’s a huge part of what made Unanswered Hymns so encouraging.

I know there were many more debut LPs than these released this year, and even more debuts that were EPs and demos of note and things like that. The reason I single out debut albums for a list is because it’s among the most pivotal offerings a band can make. You’ll never get to release a second debut record. Some bands never live theirs down, some never attain quite the same level again and struggle with it for decades. Either way, it’s no small thing to get a group together and bring it to the point of putting out a first long-player, and that accomplishment in itself, regardless of the results, is worth highlighting.

No doubt I’ve left a few excellent offerings out. I hope you’ll let me know in the comments what debut albums landed hardest with you in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading.

 

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