Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

Bone Man on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

Helén on Thee Facebooks

Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

Puta Volcano on Thee Facebooks

Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Enslaved Complete Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Back in April when Norwegian progressive black metal stalwarts Enslaved began recording their 14th full-length, the occasion was marked here, so now that the album is done, it seems only fair to note that as well. Details remain sparse for the new Enslaved offering and apparently will until Aug. 11 — given that, I’m betting on a release circa October, which still puts it well in time to catch print-mag year-end lists — but I’m willing to take Nuclear Blast at their word when they say it’s finished. Already it’s been a busy year for Enslaved, between their Roadburn Live release for Record Store Day and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson‘s debut with his experimentalist BardSpec, Hydrogen, as well as reissue projects, etc.

Enslaved‘s last full-length was 2015’s In Times (review here), which boldly furthered their evolution into a form of prog all their own.

From the PR wire:

enslaved

ENSLAVED Finish Recording And Mastering Of 14th Studio Album!

It is accomplished – the Norwegian Progressive Black avant-gardists ENSLAVED have finished the recording process of their 14th full-length masterpiece and in the renowned Fascination Street Studios, Jens Bogren polished this new raw diamond with his mixing and mastering skills. Just like for their predecessor In Times, which stormed the soundcheck rankings of the biggest European magazines, the metal veterans from Bergen still never look back and keep expanding their horizons. And this spring they created a spectacular sound chimera of experimental prog filled with majestic melodies, epic sound landscapes and harsh black metal moments – all united in a massive storm that will reach the coast this autumn.

“I’m always psyched and proud when we have finished an album recording, and this is no exception!” states singer Grutle Kjellson. “It was a really exciting process this time, with the line-up change and everything, so although it wasn’t a dramatic change, the band dynamics were suddenly different. But, it was like a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak. The studio sessions were great, and we all feel that we have done something truly amazing. We hope you’ll enjoy it. Ugh!”

More info on ENSLAVED’s devouring maelstrom will be revealed on August 11th.

In the meantime, enjoy ENSLAVED’s latest album In Times that was released in March 2015 via Nuclear Blast, which blew away both fans and journalists. Secure your physical copy here: www.nuclearblast.de/238143

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https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
https://twitter.com/enslavedband
http://www.enslaved.no/
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Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” official video from Roadburn Live

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BardSpec Post “Bone” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bardspec-Photo-Christian-Misje

If you’re not sensitive to flashing lights and you’ve got 12 spare minutes to get weird in your day — and I think we all know you do, even if you think you don’t; one has to set priorities for these things sometimes — then Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson would like to invite you to a droning dance party. And no, that’s not a rave where little robot helicopters fly overhead, though I’m sure that exists somewhere on this planet. It’s a video for the track “Bone” from Bjørnson‘s upcoming BardSpec debut, which trips out in electronic psychedelia even as it pulsates light and beats across an extended runtime atop a bed of longform guitar effects. Drone and dance. Dance and drone.

Whichever order you want to present those two, they serve as the core of “Bone,” and Bjørnson, along with Today is the Day guitarist/weirdo noise legend Steve Austin, gracefully plays to one side or the other of the balance between them throughout. The song, such as it is, is an undertaking to be sure, but in its place serving as the post-intro opener of BardSpec‘s forthcoming debut album, Hydrogen — out June 23 on ByNorse Music — its hypnotic effect proves well suited in drawing the listener in closer and readying them for the true voyage still to come. In other words, yeah, it’s gonna get stranger. That’s the whole idea.

And yet, “Bone” makes its own kind of sense, sets its own context. You can hear the linear build in the midsection, or the fluidity as one part leads into the next. You might need to make your way through it a couple times to get a sense of what is happening, but exploratory as it is in style, there is a sense of direction at work. Bjørnson is by no means flailing as he crafts the movement-filled wash at the apex. He’s poised. Just poised in another dimension. Go ahead and see for yourself. Take a chance on it.

Video is by David Hall, and is followed by more info off the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

BardSpec, “Bone” official video

Hydrogen, is the forthcoming debut from BardSpec, an experimental project featuring Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson and Today Is The Day’s Steve Austin.

BardSpec offer up a stunning fusion of stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.

BardSpec is inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When, as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh.

BardSpec website

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

BardSpec on Instagram

ByNorse Music

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Enslaved Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Pretty funny timing on the news coming in that Norwegian blackened progressives Enslaved have begun the recording process for their next album. Or at least the phrasing of the news release made it so: “Enslaved enter the studio again!” Thing was, I got this update from the PR wire over the weekend at Roadburn in the Netherlands about two minutes after I saw Enslaved bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson walking around at the fest. Looked at my phone, looked up and there he was. I had a chuckle and said to myself, “Well, I guess not all of Enslaved are in the studio at the moment.”

Anyway, fun coincidence there, but the good news is that hopefully before the end of 2017 we’ll get a follow-up to Enslaved‘s excellent 2015 studio offering, In Times (review here), which will make it a double-release year for the band, who also just put out the Roadburn Live live record. The more the merrier.

Here’s the latest:

enslaved

ENSLAVED Enter The Studio Again!

It’s been over two years since the release of critically acclaimed album In Times, and now Norway’s progressive metal legends ENSLAVED have entered the studio again to record their 14th, yet untitled full-length release. Aiming for both wilder and yet more progressive and melodic horizons, the band who celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, never ceases to surprise and challenge their fans; they will once again step up to the plate. The recordings are taking place at Duper & Solslottet Studios in Bergen throughout April, and will be mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios. With its epic touch, the album promises to be original and refreshing – and to contain some surprising new elements.

“It is absolutely fantastic to be in the studio with these new songs”, states mastermind Ivar Bjørnson. “So many doors were opened with In Times and the times (sic) that followed; for us as a band, for me as a composer and I guess for us all on a personal level. I have never worked this hard to put together music for an album before, and that intensity continues into the studio where everybody is giving their everything, every hour of every day. We are a tighter unit than ever before, which is obvious sonically. The concept conjured by myself and old war-brother Grutle is the strongest we have worked with. Finally, I am proud that we have taken more risks than ever before, and one in particular – and it is yielding awesome results. What does that mean? Stay tuned to find out!”

The eye-catching cover and artwork is once again being created by renowned designer and painter Truls Espedal. More info will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, enjoy ENSLAVED’s latest album In Times that was released in March 2015 via Nuclear Blast, which blew away both fans and journalists. Secure your physical copy here: www.nuclearblast.de/238143

http://www.facebook.com/enslaved
https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
https://twitter.com/enslavedband
http://www.enslaved.no/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
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Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” official video from Roadburn Live

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Enslaved to Release Roadburn Live 2LP for Record Store Day

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I was at Roadburn 2015 to watch Enslaved play the set captured on the forthcoming Roadburn Live 2LP, set to release on April 22 through By Norse and Roadburn Records. They were fucking incredible. Really. It had been I think weeks since I saw them in the US and they still managed to blow me away. Dudes never fail. Roadburn Live draws on the proggy side of what they do, and yes, that’s awesome. Every year at Roadburn, I tell myself I get to buy one piece of vinyl to go with the usual swath of CDs. I think I know what it’s going to be this year.

They’ve got “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” streaming now and you can check it out at the bottom of the post if you think my reasoning is suspect. It isn’t.

The PR wire fills in the details where my spinning head can’t:

enslaved roadburn live

ENSLAVED To Release Roadburn Live 2XLP For Record Store Day, April 22nd; “Death In The Eyes Of Dawn” Premiered

Roadburn Live is ENSLAVED’s first official live album, a split release between Roadburn Records and By Norse Music. The album was recorded during one of band’s headlining shows at the renowned Roadburn Festival 2015, an edition curated by ENSLAVED’s guitar player Ivar Bjørnson.

Walter Hoeijmakers, Roadburn’s Artistic Director comments on the release: “It’s no secret that there’s a strong friendship between Roadburn and ENSLAVED. One of the most hard-hitting and progressive bands to come out of Norway, ENSLAVED has played a significant part in the festival’s history – both musically and antically. Not only has ENSLAVED been our artist in residence, bringing side-projects such as The Armageddon Concerto (the ENSLAVED/Shining collaboration), Dream Of An Opium Eater, and Trinacria to Roadburn, Ivar Bjørnson has also been our 2015 co-curator, along with Wardruna’s Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, resulting in Skuggsjá’s first ever performance outside of Norway. ENSLAVED’s 2015 performances were the pinnacle of this enduring and artistic friendship, and showcased the massive influence the band has had on both Roadburn and the (underground) metal scene for the past two decades. To have these shows captured on vinyl is a dream come true for me, and I truly hope it’s the same for anyone who was in attendance, or those who want to indulge themselves in the Northern magic of ENSLAVED.”

Roadburn Live will be available as limited and exclusive Record Store Day color editions and as Roadburn/ENSLAVED-Webshop Gold edition including the original A3 Roadburn poster and color stickers!

To celebrate the release, what better way than to hold a playback session with the members of Enslaved at the Roadburn Festival 2017. Becky Laverty of Roadburn Festival comments: “ENSLAVED and Roadburn share a history that is entwined and their 2015 performance on the main stage was such a fantastic milestone for both parties, that it makes perfect sense for the show to be released as a live album. As the album will be released during Roadburn 2017, it seemed fitting to invite attendees and the band alike to join us for a playback session at the festival as part of our popular side program.”

More information about the playback session to be revealed soon.

Roadburn Live also features a brilliant layout created by highly respected artist and Roadburn’s regular graphic designer Costin Chioreanu. The album was mixed by Iver Sandøy at Solslottet Studio and mastered by Jens Bogren (Kreator, Opeth, Sepultura) in Fascination Studios. It is also the last official release with Herbrand Larsen on keys and vocals.

After celebrating their twenty-five year anniversary in 2016 showcasing a majority of older material, Roadburn Live displays songs mainly from the “newer” and more progressive era of ENSLAVED’s career, with songs from “In Times,” “Riitiir,” “Isa,” “Below The Lights,” and “Monumension.” Featuring guest appearances of Einar Selvik (Wardruna), Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (Sólstafir), Per Wiberg (Opeth, Candlemass), and Menno Gootjes (Focus) on “Immigrant Song,” the first cover song by ENSLAVED to appear on any record ever.

Grutle Kjellson comments on the album: “I’m generally not a huge fan of live albums. I like to be present at a show, to grasp the energy of the band, and to witness the sometimes magical symbiosis that occurs between the band and the audience. I am, however, a huge fan of the Roadburn Festival! I consider this to be my all-time favorite, both as a musician and as a guest. Therefore, if everENSLAVED were to release a live album, it had to be from a Roadburn show! I hope you will enjoy listening to this piece of wax as much as we did recording it!”

Release date and format: April 22nd: Record Store Day limited color editions and Roadburn/ENSLAVED-Webshop gold edition. Standard vinyl, CD, and digital. More information soon!

Roadburn Live Track Listing:
1. Building With Fire
2. Death In The Eyes Of Dawn
3. In Times
4. Daylight
5. Convoys To Nothingness
6. As Fire Swept Clean The Earth
7. Isa
8. Immigrant Song*
* Roadburn Live exclusive song originally by Led Zeppelin

Roadburn Live Lineup:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitars, keys
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass
Arve Isdal – guitars
Cato Bekkevold – drums
Herbrand Larsen – keyboard, keys

http://enslaved.no
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http://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival

Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn”

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Bardspec Announce Debut Album Hydrogen Due June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I was lucky enough to see Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson perform a Bardspec set at Roadburn 2015 (review here), and it was an immersive experience to say the least. With flashlights on the side of his glasses and accompanied by his bandmate Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, Bjørnson set about building a wash of exploratory drones and noisescapes that filled the darkened Stage01 at the 013 — since subsumed into the larger Green Room space — and gave a resoundingly progressive impression.

Given Bjørnson‘s ongoing relationship with the fest — he curated that year, along with Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik — it seems fitting that Roadburn should play a role in the release of Hydrogen, the debut recording from Bardspec, as well. Set for issue June 23 on By Norse, the full-length offering will be previewed at a listening session next month at Roadburn 2017.

The details for that, along with the Josh Graham (Neurosis, Kings Destroy) cover art, you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire:

bardspec hydrogen

BARDSPEC: Ambient Project Of Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved, Skuggsjá) To Release Debut Album, Hydrogen, Via By Norse June 23rd

BARDSPEC is the ambient project/band led by Enslaved composer/guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. This June, By Norse will release the debut album Hydrogen. Having launched at Roadburn in 2015, BARDSPEC has since evolved into a fully-fledged band, with Steve Austin on guitars/effects, David Hall presenting the live visual aspect of the project, with the layout created by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Neurosis, IIVII, etc.).

BARDSPEC combines stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings, and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music that can exist anywhere and anytime within the minds of the listener.

Whilst BARDSPEC might essentially be the same brain and personality making the music, compared to Enslaved, it is a widely different entity. Thematically and sonically, BARDSPEC is about minimizing, subtracting, and meditating upon the simplest essence of “things;” the single points exemplified through song titles like “Bone,” “Salt,” and so on, the basic elements and foundations that make up the whole. There is an element of “space” in the music and the artwork, as a representation of the inner workings of the mind and the subconscious.

Inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When (Norwegian also), as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh. Ivar describes the appeal and trance-inducing aspects of such music to him, “I remember listening to Richard Burmer and his album Mosaic from 1984. I thought I fell asleep but I was in a semi-lucid state where I still registered music – but not much else. At the end of side A there’s an explosion so violent and extreme that I jumped two feet into the air and was totally shocked. The weird thing is, I couldn’t remember it being there. When I revisited the music again it was just a little ‘thud.’ I was just experiencing a trance so deep into the music that this deviation from the pattern and frequencies in the foregoing half hour of monotony totally shocked me. I loved it!”

Roadburn Festival plays host to a very special public listening session of Hydrogen by BARDSPEC, a chance for people to hear the album from start to finish in advance of the official release date. This event shall take place on April 21st. More information incoming on the Roadburn website.

Hydrogen Track Listing:
1. Intro – Deposition
2. Bone
3. Fire Tongue
4. Gamma
5. Salt
6. Teeth (bonus track)

Hydrogen shall be released on June 23rd across all formats. The six-panel CD digipak is available as limited first press to 1000 including bonus track “Teeth.” The double gatefold LP is limited to 500 black vinyl, and the digital format also including the bonus track.

http://www.bardspec.com
http://www.facebook.com/BardSpec
http://www.instagram.com/bardspec
http://bynorse.com

Bardspec, “Fire – Tongue/Meat” Live in New York

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Enslaved Announce The Sleeping Gods – Thorn Due Nov. 11 & Vikingligr Veldi Vinyl Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, I know how it goes posting about Enslaved around here. I put something up about how the long-running Norwegian progressive black metallers are genius and how continuously innovative their sound is and blah blah blah and it falls completely flat. That was certainly the case when I reviewed their latest album, In Times (review here), last year. Well, whatever. I dig the crap out of the band and enjoy writing about them, so I’m not going to stop. They’ll release a compilation of material from 2010-2011 titled The Sleeping Gods – Thorn on Nov. 11 through ByNorse Music.

A few interesting things to note for anyone else who follows the band: ByNorse Music is definitely not Nuclear Blast, which has put out the last several Enslaved records. Whether that deal has ended or if this is a one-off or what, I don’t know, but it’s noteworthy all the same. Also, the title seems to draw from The Sleeping Gods, which was a Scion A/V EP released back in 2011, though whether the two will share any material between them is also unclear. My initial impression is no, since The Sleeping Gods – Thorn doesn’t seem to feature keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen, who is very much present in the aforementioned EP.

To those noteworthies, add the vinyl reissue of their first album, Vikingligr Veldi and the considerable round of touring Enslaved are about to do starting later this month, covering ground in Australia, Japan, Europe and the US, and yes, I feel completely justified in continuing to herald their brilliance. So there.

From the PR wire:

ENSLAVED To Release The Sleeping Gods – Thorn November 11th; To Issue Vikingligr Veldi On Vinyl For The First Time Ever

Norwegian progressive extreme metal icons ENSLAVED will release The Sleeping Gods – Thorn compilation this November via ByNorse Music. A full-length album comprised of rare material from 2010-2011, The Sleeping Gods – Thorn is a unique collection of experimental material connecting with the band’s early roots.

The seven tracks comprising The Sleeping Gods – Thorn originally appeared on extremely limited EPs between ENSLAVED’s Axioma Ethica Odini and Riitiir full-lengths and were recorded both in Solslottet Studio in Bergen, as well as the band members’ own studios and partly in the deep woods of Valevaag on the South Western Coast of Norway. Like the songs themselves, the production is a mix of old and new; high tech and no-tech – a mix of concepts that have been essential in achieving the signature sound ENSLAVED has become notorious for today. Members Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson co-produced the material together with long-time collaborator Iver Sandøy.

The album includes lyrics sung in Norwegian, English, and Old Norse, with themes centered on mythology and the esoteric side of the runes, as well as contrasting the Norse Ways as a polytheistic belief system to the monotheistic plague of the Big World Religions. The music nods respectfully to the wildly varying deities that make up the pantheon of inspiration for ENSLAVED, both “then” and “now.” There are traces of the proto black metal of Bathory, the classic rock and heavy metal of the ’70s and ’80s, the synthesized and sequenced masters of the ’70s, prog-rock, world/Norse folk music, Norwegian black metal of the ’90s, modern classical music, goth rock a la Fields Of The Nephilim, and much more.

Tying he package together are the extensive liner notes Kjellson and a beautiful new layout by Costin Chioreanu of Twilight 13 Media (Roadburn Festival, Opeth, Darkthrone, At The Gates, etc.) whose mesmerizing new illustrations display a unique symbiosis between two of our times’ most exciting visual and sonic artists.

The Sleeping Gods – Thorn will see release on November 11th on limited edition blue vinyl (webshop edition), black vinyl, digipak CD, and digitally via ByNorse Music. Preorders will start on September 30th.

The Sleeping Gods – Thorn Lineup:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar, synth
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass
Cato Bekkevold – drums
Ice Dale – lead guitar

ENSLAVED will issue their debut full-length, the now legendary Vikingligr Veldi, on vinyl for the first time ever. Set for release on September 23rd, 2016 via By Norse Music, the limited 2xLP gatefold edition includes a stunning new layout design by Z. Bielak (Ghost, Mayhem etc.) as well as four brand new illustrations specially made for this groundbreaking offering. Additionally, the record has been respectfully remastered for vinyl by Iver Sandøy preserving every bit of its original dynamics.

ENSLAVED’s Vikingligr Veldi, initially released in 1994, was co-produced with the legendary Pytten (Immortal, Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor et al) in Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway. The album features lyrics in Icelandic, and is a tribute to the Norse landscape, history, and mythology. The songs match these themes with long, horizontal songscapes, dense atmospheres, and winds from the past.

“We have been waiting since the day we recorded it,” comments ENSLAVED’s Ivar Bjørnson, “and at last it is happening! It has been a challenging journey, and it has demanded a lot of patience and understanding from all parts involved. The day we held the finished product in our hands was as sacred a day for us as the day we finished recording it.”

Ivar Bjørnson – guitars, keys
Grutle Kjellson – vocals, bass
Trym Torson – drums

Enslaved tour dates:
Sep 29 Kiff Aarau, Switzerland
Sep 30 Club Cann Stuttgart, Germany
Oct 02 Essigfabrik Köln, Germany
Oct 05 CROWBAR Fortitude Valley, Australia
Oct 06 Prince Bandroom St.Kilda, Australia
Oct 07 Manning Bar Sydney, Australia
Oct 08 Loud Park 2016 Saitama Shi, Japan
Oct 15 Lido Berlin, Germany
Oct 16 Progresja Warsaw, Poland
Oct 17 Firlej Wroclaw, Poland
Oct 18 Nová Chmelnice Praha, Czech Republic
Oct 19 Backstage Munich, Germany
Oct 20 Szene Wien, Austria
Oct 22 Club Rockstadt Brasov, Romania
Oct 23 Dürer Kert Budapest, Hungary
Oct 24 Kino Siska Ljubljana, Slovenia
Oct 26 Bronson Ravenna, Italy
Oct 27 Traffic Rome, Italy
Oct 28 Circolo Colony Brescia, Italy
Oct 29 Jas’rod Pennes Mirabeau, France
Oct 30 Razzmatazz 2 Barcelona, Spain
Oct 31 BUT Madrid, Spain
Nov 02 METRONUM Toulouse, France
Nov 03 Antipode Rennes, France
Nov 04 Divan Du Monde Paris, France
Nov 05 Damnation Festival Leeds, United Kingdom
Nov 07 Neushoorn Leeuwarden, Netherlands
Nov 08 013 Tilburg, Netherlands
Nov 09 Musikzentrum Hannover, Germany
Nov 10 Beatpol Dresden, Germany
Nov 11 Metal Hammer Paradise Wangels, Germany
Dec 10 Gramercy Theatre New York, NY

https://www.facebook.com/enslaved/
http://www.bynorse.com
http://www.facebook.com/bynorse

Enslaved, The Sleeping Gods (2011)

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Skuggsjá Sign to Season of Mist; Album Due Early 2016

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

skuggsja-Photo-by-JJ-Koczan

It was pretty clear as I stood and watched Skuggsjá‘s second performance ever at this year’s Roadburn back in April that the collaboration between Einar Selvik of Wardruna and Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved was a genuinely special project. The experience of watching it proved likewise. I said at the time that I hoped the set would be released, as so many are, in the form of a Live at Roadburn offering, but failing that, I’ll take Skuggsjá signing to Season of Mist and releasing what seems to be a studio album instead. I mean, you know, that’s not exactly roughing it.

And by that I mean, it’s fantastic news that not only will Skuggsjá continue, but that it will begin an actual evolution as a band. The album — I don’t know how it could be anything but self-titled since it was the work from which the project took its name, but don’t quote me on that — will be out early in 2016, and it’s already jumped considerably toward the top of my most-anticipated list simply by existing.

Heads up on this one. You won’t want to miss it:

skuggsja logo white

SKUGGSJÁ signs to Season of Mist

Season of Mist are proud to announce the signing of Norway’s SKUGGSJÁ. The band, led by Ivar Bjørnson (ENSLAVED) and Einar Selvik (WARDRUNA), will release their debut album worldwide in early 2016.

SKUGGSJÁ was originally conceived as a commissioned musical work written by Bjørnson and Selvik. The arrangement was performed by ENSLAVED and WARDRUNA in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution at the 2014 edition of Norway’s Eidsivablot festival.

The growing desire to present SKUGGSJÁ to a broader audience led Bjørnson and Selvik to headline Roadburn Festival 2015 and record a full album. Details regarding this debut release will be available soon.

Featuring a variety of Norway and Scandinavia’s oldest instruments, as well as poetry in Norse and Norwegian, SKUGGSJÁ tells the history of Norway and it’s people. SKUGGSJÁ is truly a fusion of Norway’s past and present both lyrically and musically.

Regarding the signing, SKUGGSJÁ comment:

“When we were asked to write a joined convert piece by the Eidsivablot festival for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, we both immediately saw the outline of something massive and important.

Our performance confirmed that this project should live on, develop and thrive. During 2015 we have performed the piece once more at the Roadburn festival, and have also discreetly slipped in and out of studios around Norway to record what is to become our debut album.

We are extremely proud of what we will present on this album. It has been quite a journey already for the two of us, but this where it really begins. We have created something that is bigger than its individual parts. Now we are excited to see what the world make out of our creation!”

All things good,
Ivar & Einar

SKUGGSJÁ’s official line-up is:
Ivar Bjørnson (ENSLAVED): vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
Einar Selvik (WARDRUNA): vocals, taglharpa, Kravik-lyre, goat-horn, birch-bark lure, bone-flute, percussion, electronics

The album will also feature contributions from the following musicians:
Grutle Kjellson (ENSLAVED): vocals
Lindy-Fay Hella (WARDRUNA): vocals
Eilif Gundersen: birch bark lure
Olav L. Mjelva: Harding fiddle
Cato Bekkevold (ENSLAVED): drums

https://www.facebook.com/SkuggsjaNO
http://www.skuggsja.no/
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Skuggsjá, Live at Roadburn 2015

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