Empress and Piece Stream New Split in Full; Tour Starts This Weekend

Posted in audiObelisk on November 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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piece

Canadian trio Empress and German foursome Piece are hitting the road together in Germany and the Czech Republic starting this weekend. The final show of the tour, Nov. 9 in Piece‘s hometown of Berlin, will mark the release of a split 12″ they’re sharing to mark the occasion. It’s heavy. And it’s metal. So what else to call it? The sense of severity doesn’t take long to grab the throat with Empress‘ tracks arranged as the initial assault, as though Piece were telling them “it’s okay, guests first.” Both bands conjure a decent sense of barrage, make no mistake, but there’s no lack of distinguishing character between them and they’re by no means chasing after the same goals. Empress, who call Vancouver, British Columbia, home, tap into Pacific Coastal extremity ever so slightly in “At Peace to Burn the Gathering,” and while I wouldn’t necessarily call the track subtle on any level if only for the inherent volume of its execution, the fact that in the first 90 seconds it goes from crashing sludge riffs to Cascadian-style black metal and then turns again to a kind of post-metallic atmosphere is not to be overlooked just for the fluidity for which it’s done.

“At Peace to Burn the Gathering” and the accompanying “Zwölf” are both well over six minutes long, so there’s plenty of time to flesh out such genre interplay, and Empress demonstrate that malleability plainly en route to the gradual deconstruction of the first cut and into the chug that begins “Zwölf,” which does well in bringing the varying sides together ahead of a midsection break to drum-pushed ambience that introduces clean vocals put to effective use as the full force of tone returns. Is it right to think of a two-song release having an apex? I don’t know, but it does, and like their first track, Empress gradually bring down “Zwölf” before Piece take hold with the suitably introductory “Oblivion.”

All told, the split is 27 minutes long, and that’s pretty evenly divided between Empress (a little shorter) and Piece (a little longer). While both bands should be noted for the flow they conjure during their time, Piece take the extra step of using “Oblivion” to set the stage for side B of the vinyl, which makes gives a glimpse at the tonal foundation and riffy grandstanding at play before “Blood Eagle” (no relation to the Conan album of the same name) gallops in with a marked, defining High on Fire influence. I mean, it’s prevalent, and Piece aren’t trying to hide it. Their black wings are blessed and their communion is with death. No complaints. Blown-out vocals help disassociate, and the ease with which they work their way into a slowdown later — still over double-kick drumming — helps them make an impression of their own before “Blood Eagle” ends cold and leads to the near-eight-minute “Primordial Void.”

A more distinctly sludged opening riff rolls out there during the initial couple minutes topped with echoing barks of vocals and pushed with a rhythmic fervency that foreshadows the gallop soon to resume. That conversation between tempos plays out again before “Primordial Void” opens up to a more spacious solo just past its halfway point, and though brief, it has the effect of adding a new context for the song, which is soon to hit into an even bigger slowdown that sneakily introduces the organ that will be the last remaining element after the final march recedes into residual amp noise and feedback.

Both acts released debut EPs in 2017, and each approaches their half of the outing with suitable intensity. The tour is eight shows — seven in Germany, one in the Czech Republic — and I expect by the end of it there will be a couple raw throats and a couple tired drummers, but there’s no way that Berlin gig won’t be a good time. You can stream the entire split below courtesy of SoulWrecked Records, which is handling the release, and see all the dates and more info thereafter.

Please enjoy:

SoulWrecked Records will be Putting out this release on November 2nd 2018 on Digital and 12” Vinyl formats. This will be Empress’s first time touring Europe.

Empress & Piece on tour:
Nov. 2. Cottbus -Piece, Hedger, Empress
Nov. 3. Leipzig – Empress, Piece, Spleen Flipper
Nov. 4. Liberec – Ned?lní vzývaní Cthulhu: Empress [Ca] * Piece [De] *
Nov. 5. Jena – Castle / Empress / Piece
Nov. 6. Karlsruhe – Stoner Metal // Piece + Empress // P8
Nov. 7. Essen – Empress (CAN), Piece, Second Sight | Emokeller Essen
Nov. 8. Kiel – Piece & Empress – Kieler Schaubude
Nov. 9. Berlin – Piece & Empress & Weedruid – Split Record Release Show
*Czech Republic

Drawn by the call of Cthulhu, PIECE have created a concept EP that sounds more Bayou than Berlin, more Swamps than Spree and unlike anything else that made it out of a dusty rehearsal room in Germany?s capital city. Deeply rooted in the DIY Hardcore Punk scene, Piece prove that they are able to create a sound that resembles Crowbar or High On Fire and wanders far off the respective sub-genres of their members? previous or still active bands such as Demonwomb, Scarred Mind, Sleep Routine, Soulground, Trapjaw and Waterlvngs.

The three-headed beast EMPRESS from Vancouver, B.C. was born after guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco (SEER) and drummer Chris Doyle attended a show headlined by doom mavens ELDER. Inspired by the massive wall of sound and psychedelia they encountered on that fateful night, the pair enlisted bassist Brenden Gunn (CRATERS) and set out to create their own brand of stoner/sludge metal. The trio, whose collective history dates back nearly a decade, went immediately to work. Within two months EMPRESS wrote and recorded the five tracks now collectively known as Reminiscence. With this debut EP, EMPRESS harvests a hybrid strain of monolithic groove, over-amped sludge and mutant prog.

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Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

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

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

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Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

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DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

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Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

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Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

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Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

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