Cruthu Announce Debut Album The Angle of Eternity Due in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit to a definite personal connection with Lansing, Michigan, doomers Cruthu, whose guitarist, “Postman Dan” McCormick, I consider a close friend despite geographic distance. Nonetheless, there comes a time when your friends put together albums, and they’re good, and you want to write about them, and I guess that brings us around to The Angle of Eternity, the forthcoming Cruthu debut album. Set for a limited LP release circa March and streaming now in its doomed entirety below, the record does well in balancing classic ideas of what doom is with some atmospheric nuance. Metal with a rock vibe, rock that’s too dark to not quite be metal, and so on. I’m predisposed to like it, particularly after their 2014 demo, Creation (review here), and seeing their prior lineup live in their hometown (review here), but screw it. I’d dig it anyway.

Distro is set through to be through respected Michigan-based purveyor Emetic Records. Here’s a press release I wrote as circled back through the PR wire:

cruthu the angle of eternity

Cruthu: Classic Doom Abounds on ‘The Angle of Eternity’

Midwestern doom metal outfit Cruthu have announced a March release for their debut full-length, The Angle of Eternity. Comprised of six tracks, the album follows their 2014 demo, Creation, and will be pressed in an edition of 500 jet-black LPs with distribution via Emetic Records.

Based in Lansing, Michigan, Cruthu is comprised of vocalist Ryan Evans, guitarist Dan McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman also plays on the album), and drummer Matt Fry. The Angle of Eternity was produced by McCormick and George Szegedy at The Black Lodge in Lansing, and features cover art by Dan McDonald Studios in a grim style perfectly suited to the band’s downer and ethereal songcraft.

“The album is traditional doom metal with heavy ’70s movements and passages — well structured and deliberate,” says McCormick in assessing the aesthetic. “We were going for a more lo-fi, circa-’70s sound. Our current goal is to progress the project into some early-NWOBHM over time without compromising our traditional influence.”

Songs like the lurching “Lady in the Lake” and “Bog of Kildare” will earn understanding nods from fans of doomed greats like Trouble, Pagan Altar and The Gates of Slumber, and the progressive edge brought to “Seance” and the closing title-track make a clear statement that Cruthu offer a richness of approach to coincide with their memorable riffing and thematic lyrics.

Recorded 100 percent to tape, The Angle of Eternity weaves a natural-sounding tapestry of doom across its course, capturing a raw vision of heavy metal’s roots as righteous in its execution as its foundations. It is doom by doomers, for doomers, and readily lets the rest be as damned as they are.

The Angle of Eternity tracklisting:
1. Bog of Kildare
2. Lady in the Lake
3. Seance
4. From the Sea
5. Separated From the Herd
6. The Angle of Eternity

Cruthu live:
03/15 Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI w/ Castle, Sauron
03/17 State Street Pub, Indianapolis, IN w/ Apostle of Solitude, Tarpit Boogie
03/18 New Dodge Lounge, Hamtramck, MI w/ Apostle of Solitude, Tarpit Boogie

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity (2017)

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Friday Full-Length: Suplecs, Sad Songs… Better Days

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Suplecs, Sad Songs… Better Days (2001)

If you ever wanted a crash course in everything right about the Man’s Ruin era of heavy rock and roll, look no further than Suplecs‘ second album, Sad Songs… Better Days. Released in 2001 as the follow-up to the prior year’s Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend, its nine tracks still provide 15 years after the fact an abject lesson in how to offer kickass riffs with zero pretense, how to develop a natural-feeling dynamic not through production wizardry but through actually having one, and how to craft material that’s diverse in structure but flows front to back while asking so little of the listener that you and the record might as well be cracking a beer on the back porch together on a lazy Saturday afternoon, which, as it happens, isn’t a bad way to to enjoy Sad Songs… Better Days if cracking a beer is your thing. From the rolling and catchy groove of opener “White Devil” onward through the subsequent hook of “Rock Bottom” and down through the bass-led groove of the languid “Blue Runner,” the prescient shuffle of “Unstable,” which morphs into a secret cover of The Beatles‘ “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)” and “Lightning Lady” and the weirdnes that lies beyond in “Out of Town” and closer “Unexpected Trauma,” which also has a secret track attached — seems Suplecs wanted one per side; this time it’s a little countrified twanger instrumental — it wound up being the kind of album you listened to and could only nod your head in agreement: Yes. This is what it’s all about.

The story of Suplecs is complicated on some levels and easy on others. When I note them as essential to the “Man’s Ruin era,” I mean the period of between roughly 1995 to 2002 when Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records provided a guiding hand to the post-Kyuss world of heavy rock. By the time 2000 brought Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend, the imprint had already issued pivotal outings from High on Fire, Goatsnake, Brant Bjork, Alabama Thunderpussy, Acid King, Natas, Queens of the Stone Age, etc., and with names like that — bands who went on to define a generation of heavy rock, and that’s by no means an exhaustive list — it’s easy to see how Suplecs get lost in the discussion. Their beginning dating back to 1996 when bassist/vocalist Danny Nick, fresh out of Eyehategod joined up with guitarist Durel Yates and drummer Andrew Preen, they put their first EP out in 1998, but the two Man’s Ruin outings would largely define them, even after the label folded in 2002 on the eve of what would’ve been Suplecs‘ first tour of Europe. Timing is everything.

I recall being ultra-stoked to get a demo of new material from them in 2003 or 2004 at a Small Stone Records showcase at SXSW — still have it — and sure enough, in 2005 they’d release Powtin’ on the Outside Pawty on the Inside, a rawer third album that went largely unpromoted thanks in no small part to the effect Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans, including on the band. It would be some six years before Suplecs managed to get a record out, and 2011’s Mad Oak Redoux (review here) found them aligned to Small Stone officially for the first time and pulling together the various sides of their sound with a crisp production from the studio mentioned in the title. In no small part, it was just nice to have Suplecs back. That was five years ago. Since then, they’ve continued to play sporadic shows — they have one on Oct. 15 in Nola with High on Fire, for example, and they marked their 20th anniversary in August alongside Dixie Witch —  and Nick has opened a bar called Portside Lounge, so it’s not like they’re actually finished, but clearly priorities have shifted.

Still, I wouldn’t ever count Suplecs out. Hurricanes, folded labels, and the march of time itself — they seem impervious to all of it — so don’t be surprised when or if they show up with a new record. Until then, Sad Songs… Better Days, which was reissued on CD in 2002 on This Dark Reign and on vinyl last year through Emetic Records, is about as timeless as heavy rock gets.

I hope you enjoy.

Holy shit, this week. I stayed home sick from work yesterday and Wednesday and have spent the majority of the time since Tuesday afternoon wanting to grip myself from the collarbone and tear my body open to let my guts spill out. Absolutely demolished, particularly in the mornings, which if you read these posts is when I write reviews. In that way, it was actually kind of fortunate this week was the Quarterly Review — thanks for checking it out if you did — since the majority of it was done beforehand, but wow, it has been a slog. I think yesterday was actually worse than Wednesday, and I can’t really account for consciousness today either. I’m just trying to get through it to finish out the week at work and be caught up from not being in the office the last two days. Brutal.

I don’t think you’d know that from the amount of stuff that’s gone up the last couple days though. It’s been a busy week as well as crushing, and I expect no less next week either. Look out for streams and reviews from VaregoMelmak, maybe Captain Crimson and Lamp of the Universe, as well as a review of the Lo Sound Desert documentary that’s long overdue, as well as a Långfinger video premiere, a new clip from Dot Legacy that’s been making the rounds and news about Freak Valley 2017. Amazing to think that festivals next summer have started to announce their lineups.

That said, I’ve been experimenting with advance planning myself. I have reviews slated through Oct. 26 currently, and while that’s obviously a flexible schedule pending the stream offers that come in and stuff like that, it’s kind of reassuring to have a calendar and to be able to say, “Okay, I’m finally gonna tackle the Truckfighters record on this day, the Worshipper record on that day.” An extension of the impulse driving the Quarterly Review, maybe, since that’s worked out over a period of months before it actually goes live, but either way, thus far it’s made life less stressful rather than more and at this point I’ll take what I can get in that regard. See ripping myself open above.

It’s a three-day weekend for me, no work on Monday, but I’ll be posting anyhow. I hope to continue recovery from whatever the fuck it is that has besieged me this last half-week, and be back up to speed by the time Tuesday hits. Fingers crossed.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Belzebong to Release Greenferno this Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

belzebong (Photo by Rafal Kudyba)

Weedian Polish five-piece Belzebong (also stylized with a capital ‘G’ at the end) began their association with Michigan imprint Emetic Records in 2013 with the release of a second pressing of their 2013 one-sided 12″, Dungeon Vultures and a reissue of their 2011 full-length, Sonic Scapes and Weedy Groves. The forthcoming four-tracker Greenferno, which I’ve no doubt will serve as Belzebong‘s second long-player, will be the continuation of that alliance, the instrumental outfit proffering ultra-stoner riffs and thematics perhaps best summed up by the title of the first song to be revealed from the album: “Diabolical Dopenosis.”

What’s to note from “Diabolical Dopenosis” that might tell us about the rest of Greenferno? Its resin-caked groove, for one. Beginning with its central nodding riff and a sample from the 1982 film Creepshow about people turning into weeds, it’s not long before Belzebong are dug into the progression that will carry them through the bulk of the track, full-toned riffage, ample bottom end and steady crash resulting in a for-the-converted roll that should meet with much approval as it opens Greenferno. I’ve yet to hear anything of the remaining three tracks on the album — “Inhale in Hell” (get it?), “Goat Smokin’ Blues” and “The Undertoker” — but something tells me it doesn’t get any less stoned from here.

Emetic has put out the artwork for the album and just a couple preliminaries about format and general release time — Summer 2015 — with presumably more details to follow. Dig it:

belzebong greenferno

We are excited to announce the upcoming release of the new BelzebonG full length album “GREENFERNO”:

The track listing for Greenferno :
1. Diabolical Dopenosis
2. Inhale in Hell
3. Goat Smokin’ Blues
4. The Undertoker

Greenferno will be released later this summer by Emetic Records as a LP, CD and cassette. More details coming soon.

Now, hit one and listen to “Diabolical Dopenosis”

Check out the 1st track Diabolical Dopenosis here:

Belzebong, “Diabolical Dopenosis”

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Celophys to Release Phobos Elevator on Emetic Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Worthy of note for those who worship tone and/or dig the stonerisms of Eastern Europe — which between the two I think really covers everybody — the young gentlemen of Ukrainian duo Celophys will release their new album, Phobos Elevator, on limited CD and LP through US label Emetic Records. The two-piece made their debut with Triassic Desert last fall and worked quickly on the follow-up, which they put out digitally through Bandcamp earlier this month.

Those who would approach should beware that the plodding weedian stomp of Celophys comes packaged with a low death metal growl. We’re talking Chris Barnes and, in less growling moments, earlier Death kind of stuff. This comes as a welcome surprise for the brutality hound in me — I wanted to start a stoner death metal band a while back, thinking of it as a logical extension of Weedeater-style sludge, but to no avail; apparently I should’ve checked the Ukraine on Craigslist — and with other outfits experimenting in blends of death-doom and stoner idolatry, CelophysPhobos Elevator makes sense sound-wise in a world gone mad with genre crossover.

No word exactly on when Emetic will put out Phobos Elevator, I’d expect early 2014, though it could be sooner I suppose if there was a real rush, but the rumble-heavy five-track offering will arrive in limited-to-200 pressings of vinyl and CD, and is sure to vibrate the living hell out of any turntable that tries to support its weight.

Stay tuned for more on Celophys and in the meantime, feel free to get acquainted with Phobos Elevator on the player below, which I snagged from their Bandcamp page in a most bastardly fashion.

Celophys, Phobos Elevator (2013)

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Church of Misery, Terror in Tokyo: Exhibit A

Posted in Reviews on September 17th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If there’s any doubt that you’re about to watch Church of Misery play as their new Emetic Records DVD, Terror in Tokyo, begins, it’s cast off in the first minute as a darkened semi-silhouette of founding bassist Tatsu Mikami straps on his instrument in his signature ultra-low-slung style. For years, Mikami has been the driving force for Japan’s foremost doom rockers, proffering Sabbathian riffs of quality unparalleled, and Terror in Tokyo captures the band’s show at 20,000 Volt in Kouenji, Tokyo, on Dec. 29, 2012, and includes a bonus disc of their full set from Maryland Deathfest earlier in the year. A foreboding rumble and shots of tuning, etc., start out as the four-piece gets ready to unleash “B.T.K.,” which also opens their 2013 album, Thy Kingdom Scum (review here), but soon enough Mikami is on his wah, jamming with guitarist Ikuma Kawabe as longtime drummer Junji Narita begins the tom thud under the stark lighting, yellow, red, bare. They build the groove from the ground up and soon enough the crowd — who are close enough to the stage to more or less be on it — are in full nod as “B.T.K.” rolls on. Church of Misery‘s tribute to Dennis Rader, who killed 10 people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991, the instrumental “B.T.K.” is among the most righteous of Thy Kingdom Scum‘s many killer (ahem) riffs, and it’s no less a standout on Terror in Tokyo, though the 17-song set on the band’s first DVD to be available outside Japan (fourth overall) goes as far back as the title-track of 1998’s Taste the Pain EP. Last to arrive on the small stage is frontman Hideki Fukusawa, who returned to Church of Misery in 2011 after previously serving as vocalist between 2004 and 2009 and performing on their albums The Second Coming (2004) and Houses of the Unholy (2009; review here), and who comes out to raised cups of beer from the crowd and. In Lennon sunglasses and a flowing shirt, he claps along, plays air guitar and takes an immediate driving position of the groove. Camera changes are fast and exciting — there are at least five at work, including the one on Narita — and a sense of motion is maintained throughout, but the editing is crisp at the same time and as much as it  doesn’t linger, neither does it lose the rhythm of the songs themselves in its hard cuts from shot to shot.

“B.T.K.” is the first of three from the then-not-yet-released Thy Kingdom Scum played in a row to open the gig, moving right into “Lambs to the Slaughter” and the single “Brother Bishop,” and though Fukusawa seems out of breath with the timing of the first chorus, by the second one, he’s locked in and fully reactive, riding each groove in classic freakout fashion, tambourine included. Kawabe takes a lead over the crash of Narita‘s cymbals, and it becomes quickly apparent that if Church of Misery haven’t considered releasing the audio of this show, they should. In the high and low end, it’s full and clear, not overpowered by the drums but not missing them, with vocals cutting through sounding natural but not dominating. “Lambs to the Slaughter” comes to a glorious finish and transitions smoothly into “Brother Bishop,” which is even more riotous. For Thy Kingdom Scum’s release being months off at this point, the crowd seems to have an easy enough time getting into the songs, but that seems to just be an effect of Mikami‘s riffs, which are nothing if not accessible, however blown out they may or may not be on a given album. Dark in reds and yellows, “Brother Bishop” caps with raucous boogie and an arena-ready solo from Kawabe before “Candy Man” from The Second Coming and Houses of the Unholy highlight “Born to Raise Hell” take hold, transitioning from the initial opening bombast into the meat of the set — no less bombastic, has it happens. His synthsizer looming at the side of the stage, Fukusawa takes his sunglasses off for “Candy Man” and by the time “Born to Raise Hell” kicks in, Church of Misery are more than warmed up — they slam into the pre-solo slowdown in that song to raised fists and banging heads as Mikami and Narita hold together the groove from which Kawabe launches not his first impressive display of the show. “Taste the Pain,” “Killfornia” from 2001’s Master of Brutality and “Red Ripper Blues” from The Second Coming follow, continuing the dive into the ample and somewhat nebulous Church of Misery catalog, the former playing foreboding minimalism of thudding heavy descent while “Killfornia” finds Fukusawa at his synth as the lights transition from orange, red and yellow to greens and blues, a huge finish leading to a stretch of synth noise and humming feedback, light cymbal wash and ambient guitar jamming on a slow build.

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Sonic Flower, Sonic Flower: The Only Coming

Posted in Reviews on February 17th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Side-stepping his role as bassist for Church of Misery, Tatsu Mikami put together Sonic Flower as a heavy blues rock side-project. Their lone EP, Sonic Flower, was released in 2003 on Japan’s Leaf Hound Records, and now that the label has been defunct under what were at the time somewhat mysterious circumstances, Sonic Flower has become a kind of fascinating asterisk in the Church of Misery canon. Enter Michigan imprint Emetic Records, who’s already backed reissues of Church of Misery’s Early Works Compilation (also originally a Leaf Hound release) and previously-unreleased Vol. 1 outing (review here), and Sonic Flower now finds release as a limited-to-500 hand-numbered CD and an already-sold-out limited-to-300 marble vinyl. The artwork matches the original, and there isn’t any bonus material included (I don’t think there was anything to include), so Emetic’s Sonic Flower is basically a chance for anyone who didn’t manage to pick up the original while Leaf Hound was operational to do so now. The six tracks of the EP total 25 minutes and are entirely instrumental, steeped in hard-jammed ‘70s blues, Cactus being a particular reference point for a song like “Astroqueen” or the off-the-rails opener “Cosmic Highway.”

Production-wise, Sonic Flower’s Sonic Flower has plenty in common with what Church of Misery were doing at that time, which is expected. Joining Tatsu in the band were guitarists Takenori Hoshi (ex-Church of Misery) and Arisa, and drummer Keisuke Fukawa (now ex-G.A.T.E.S.), who’d later be replaced by Church of Misery’s Junji “J.J.” Narita. In 2003, Church of Misery released their split with British stoner heavyweights Acrimony, and the following year saw their ultra-blown-out The Second Coming released, so Sonic Flower’s overall sound is right at home between the two. Keisuke’s cymbals are nowhere near as prominent in the mix as were Junji’s on The Second Coming, and the lack of vocals gives the guitars space to breathe and fill the void with harmonic interplay and soloing. The songs are built around and follow the riffs exclusively, with Tatsu adding funky flourishes in fills between cycles of “Black Sunshine” before the song moves into and out of spacey freakouts and revives its bluesy stomp. It’s a solid 25-plus minutes of grooving, and Sonic Flower didn’t seem to have anything more in mind than that; the unabashed stoner rockness of it being half the appeal. Church of Misery’s singularity of focus on serial killers is absent here, but many of the same musical influences persist – Tatsu being principle songwriter, it stands to reason – and even the closing Don Nix cover “Going Down” is inflected with heady distortion and well-fitting rhythmic heft.

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Noothgrush, Failing Early, Failing Often: Overachieving at Underachievement

Posted in Reviews on September 14th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

In the spirit of their reissue of the out-of-print Early Works Compilation from Church of Misery, the vigilant Michigan label Emetic Records now plays host to a renewed edition of Failing Early, Failing Often, a collection of demo cuts and rarities from Oakland, California, sludge imperialists Noothgrush. It’s one of several releases the Noothgrush have on offer for fall 2011 – as the band also plays their first live shows in a decade, they’re unleashing a host of vinyls and CDs, including this, the Live for Nothing live album on Southern Lord, a reissue of their Erode the Person full-length, a reissue of their first demo, and a collection of unreleased songs and covers. The material on Failing Early, Failing Often, which was first released in 2001, comprises Noothgrush’s second two demo tapes and numerous contributions to splits, compilations and 7”s. Recorded over the course of a little under two years between August 1995 and June 1997, this 17-track, 70-minute CD is equal parts expansive and oppressive. Any way you cut it, it cuts you first.

The reasonable assumption when approaching a disc like Failing Early, Failing Often is that these songs — which are culled from no fewer than 14 disparate sources and put side by side — would have nothing in common, sound-wise, and that the comp would be completely haphazard as a result. Not so. Noothgrush recorded this material over the stated stretch of time, true, and with a varied lineup around drummer Chiyo Nukaga, guitarist Russ Kent and vocalist/periodic-guitarist Gary Niederhoff, but they did it all at the same studio. The entirety of Failing Early, Failing Often’s material was put to tape (over eight sessions, according to the liner notes) at Trainwreck Studios in Mountain View, California, and between that and the consistency of Niederhoff’s ultra-gnarly throat abrasions, it’s enough to lend some measure of consistency. The tracks don’t flow as easily as they might on an album, but the rough production they all receive throughout acts as a base that songs stray in various directions around, either grittier or cleaner. Mostly grittier. Noothgrush – who’ve gone underappreciated in the resurgence of sludge-influenced acts like EyeHateGod and Buzzov*en – clearly knew at the time what works for their genre, and there’s no capitulation anywhere to accessibility. Failing Early, Failing Often is 70 minutes of mud-covered fuckall to which many endurances will no doubt fall.

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Buzzov*en, …At a Loss: Still Swamped After all These Years

Posted in Reviews on May 6th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

The band’s original 1998 swansong, …At a Loss can be taken two ways when put in the context of Buzzov*en’s catalog as a whole. On the one hand, it’s the Wilmington, North Carolina, outfit’s most coherent offering in terms of songcraft, use of structure, and general self-awareness. By 1998, there may not have been nearly as many practitioners of it as there are today, but there was a set of sludge acts from across the USBongzilla and Eyehategod come to mind as contemporaries – and Buzzov*en were always intelligent enough to understand what was happening around them, as they were constantly on tour. So it’s a record with a place and a defined direction. On the other hand, with that, you necessarily lose the chaos of Buzzov*en’s earlier work in albums like To a Frown (1993) and Sore (1994), which had a fuck-all throwaway feel that simply can’t be replicated by anyone who knows what they’re doing without sounding contrived on some level. What’s certain in listening to …At a Loss is that Buzzov*en did pill-popping misanthropy like no one either in the American South or anywhere else. Even as what’s ostensibly their most accessible album, …At a Loss is a litmus test for how much aural hatred a person can withstand before pressing stop.

Given new life with a recent reissue thanks to Michigan imprint Emetic Records, every second of …At a Loss feels saturated with anger. It’s a humid, swampy sound to start with, and Buzzov*en revel in it across songs like the ultra-slow “Loricet,” the blastingly punkish “Flow,” which follows immediately, and the opening title-track, which begins the album with a sample of Robert Di Niro from Taxi Driver giving the “Someday a real rain’s gonna come…” monologue like it’s a mission statement for …At a Loss itself. The samples – an integral part of Buzzov*en’s assault – were handled at last by T-Roy Medlin, who had already by then formed Sourvein, and though that inevitably dates the record in the context of how overused sampling became in sludge, doom and stoner rock, it’s important to remember how pioneering Buzzov*en were in the method and that their doing so involved tapes and not laptops. I don’t know if that makes a difference in how most ears will hear …At a Loss 13 years after the fact, but the context is worth considering one way or the other.

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