Posted in audiObelisk on July 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Because their transitions are so fluid, it’s almost easy to miss the parts on the self-titled Pink Tank Records debut (out Aug. 14) from Helsinki trio Kaleidobolt where the band shifts from weighted stoner nod into a kind of classic shuffling prog-jazz fusion, Sampo, Marco and Valtteri careening as they make their way through album opener “Rocket to the Moon,” which, if we’re to judge by the noisy finish they give the song, does not result in an according-to-plan landing. For an outfit who got their start in 2014, Kaleidobolt‘s first offering bypasses the “getting our feet wet” vibe of many acts’ early work and while three albums from now they might go on to make it sound primitive, as it stands, songs like the aforementioned opener, the subsequent “Momentum” and “Liskodisko” impress not only with how smoothly their make turns between them, but within them as well, the three-piece showcasing jammers’ chemistry and a progressive sense of drive as “Momentum” moves from its initial insistent rhythm to a more open, airy section of guitar that lets the bass and drums hold the tension. Not a new method, but presented freshly and devoid of pretense in a manner that makes Kaleidobolt an even more engaging listen.
The fluidity becomes the defining theme, musically. “Into the Crevice” starts off at a quiet run and winds its way around echoing vocal lines and trades back and forth with more full-on fuzz until an unexpected slowdown in the second half brings a doomier vibe that, gracefully, gets quick again toward the finish. This eases the transition to “Liskodisko,” which opens side B with call-and-response noodling between the lead guitar and drums, verses emerging and receding behind instrumental passages that, to call them a jam would be to rob them of their complexity. Kaleidobolt obviously thrive on catching listeners off guard, which is something a band can usually do once on a record, maybe twice, but the chops they showcase between them as “Liskodisko” moves toward its prog-grunge head hold much potential for further songwriting adventurousness. A band who can play the way these guys play sound like they’re going to be conscious of not getting bored or bogged down in a songwriting routine. Their debut certainly doesn’t, as the quiet, fading closing passage of “Liskodisko” gives way to the headswimming low-end fuzz of “Mountain Man.”
It’s the shortest track on Kaleidobolt‘s Kaleidobolt at 4:54, and perhaps also the most straightforward — or at least as close as they get. A riffy nod is met by fervent shouting as Kaleidobolt leave the proggy aspirations to the side for the time being and instead concentrate on tension and tonal push, the track making its way toward a fast but still weighted finish that hints at some underlying punker mischief and blinds with its leadwork and bizarro swirl in the meantime, the three-piece emerging at the end unscathed to shift into 9:52 closer, which has as many psychedelic underpinnings as it does those of heavy blues boogie rock, and in refusing to commit to either, it winds up distinguished from both while also hearkening back to the earlier progressive edge in its central bassline. As they have at several points, Kaleidobolt round out the instrumental finale with a touch of speedy chaos, but by the time you get there listening, it’s apparent just how in-control of their approach these cats are. Their debut might take a couple passes to sink in, but it’s a deceptively rich stylistic base from which Kaleidobolt operate, and they only seem interested in becoming more forward-thinking. Consider notice served.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Mountain Man” for streaming ahead of the Aug. 14 Pink Tank Records release. Please find it on the player below, followed by more about the band, album and accompanying tour, and enjoy:
Kaleidobolt is a power trio that came together in early 2014 in Helsinki. In the short time they’ve been together, they’ve gained the reputation of being one of the most exciting live bands in Finland. Their music is a dizzying maelstrom of progressive song structures, crushing riffs and loose psychedelic soundscapes, delivered with joy and ferociousness. Their first album was recorded in 2014 with an effort on delivering a production as truthful as possible to the live experience and it’s scheduled for release in summer 2015 by Pink Tank Records.
VINYL FACTZ: – 300 copies total – 100 copies opaque purple incl. poster and download code (exclusive Pink Tank edition) – 100 copies black incl. poster and download code (exclusive band edition) – 100 copies white standard edition (wholesale) – all on high quality vinyl made in Germany
CD FACTZ: – CD comes in a jewel case – first 50 go out with an extra Kaleidobolt sticker
TRACKS: 1. ROCKET TO THE MOON 06:38 2. MOMENTUM 07:34 3. INTO THE CREVASSE 05:23 4. LISKODISKO 07:41 5. MOUNTAIN MAN 04:54 6. SHOWDOWN 09:51
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising are kind of like what their Neurot labelmates in Ufomammut would be if every color in their palette of swirl was black. Got a red door? No you don’t, because Dark Buddha Rising took the fucking thing, stripped the finish off and burnt the bare wood out in the forest as part of some weirdo ritual. The ultra-bleak psych-doomers — who are cosmic in the same way as antimatter — will release their new album, Inversum, on Sept. 25 as the follow-up to the two-disc Dakhmandal, which was issued on Svart in 2013.
Me? I think it bodes remarkably well that there are only two songs on the thing. The PR wire had this to say about it:
DARK BUDDHA RISING To Release New Album In September Artwork + Track Listing Revealed
Psychedelic doom purveyors, DARK BUDDHA RISING, will be releasing their fifth studio album, Inversum, this Fall. Their first release on Neurot Recordings, Inversum will be unveiled on September 25, 2015.
The album follows DARK BUDDHA RISING’s 2014 European tour with Mr. Peter Hayden, with the Finnish black psychedelic doom six-piece deservedly garnering further recognition as masters of the art of the hypnotic and dark sonics, which they’ve been honing for the past eight years since their inception.
Inversum swallows the listener into an introspective realm of dark psychedelia, menacing mysticism and weighty, trudging riffs and includes the stunning artwork, borne out of a collaboration between V. A. and Karmazid. Elaborates the the band: “Inversum is the opening of the Third Cycle Of DARK BUDDHA RISING. It acts as an initiation for the new members V. Vatanen (guitar, vocals), J. Saarivuori (keyboards) and M. Neuman (vocals). Also it is the first release through Neurot Recordings. Most of all, Inversum is the first album that is recorded, produced and mixed by ourselves in the depths of the Wastement, the asylum of eternal feedback. The process that led to the manifestation of the Inversum, was heavily guided by both intuition and determination, in order to take the music even further down the path we have chosen. Inversum is a monument built upon the foundation of our work and sculpted with the initial principles of DARK BUDDHA RISING, to celebrate the Black Arts of Psychedelia.”
Inversum Track Listing: 1. E S O 2. E X O
Since 2008’s Ritual IX, “the group has mastered their craft album by album, show by show. Ominous riffing, colossal doom, swirling psychedelia, repetition, repetition, repetition. The recipe is carved in stone, yet it leads to different endings – or bottomless shafts. Tension, tension, tension, lunacy. I only have one advice to give: Hold tight. The winds are gathering.” – words by Jukka Hätinen
Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re on the downhill swing of this edition of the Quarterly Review, so it’s time to get into some extremes, I think. Today, between death-doom lurch, drone-as-fuck exploring, gritty aggression and a whole lot more, we pretty much get there. I’m not saying it’s one end of the universe to another, but definitely a little all-over-the-place, which is just what one might need when staring down the fourth round of 10 reviews in a row in a week’s time. Feeling good though, so let’s do it.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Kamchatka, Long Road Made of Gold
It would really be something if Swedish blues rockers Kamchatka released six albums over the course of the last decade and didn’t know what they were doing by now. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Long Road Made of Gold (Despotz Records), their sixth, as the Verberg three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Juneor Andersson, bassist Per Wiberg (see also: Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Opeth, etc.) and drummer Tobias Strandvik modernize classic heavy rock with equal comfort in including a banjo on “Take Me Back Home” and progressive-style harmonies on “Rain.” They seem to get bluesier as they go, with later cuts “Mirror,” “Slowly Drifting Away,” “Long Road” and “To You” rounding out the album with Clutch-style bounce, but the prevailing impact of Long Road Made of Gold is one of unflinching class, the chemistry of its players – not to mention Wiberg’s bass tone – ringing through loud and clear from the material as Kamchatka make their way down that long road to their inevitable next outing.
I said as much when the Tokyo duo released their 2013 debut EP (review here) as well, but their first long-player Iron Scorn (on At War with False Noise) only confirms it: Legion of Andromeda are fucked. Theirs is a doomed-out death metal given further inhumanity by programmed drums and the blown-out growls of vocalist -R-, while guitarist/programmer –M- holds down grime-encrusted chug and dirge riffing. Perhaps most fucked of all is the fact that Iron Scorn uses essentially the same drum progression across its seven tracks/44 minutes, varying in tempo but holding firm to the double-kick and bell-hit timekeeping for the duration. The effect this has not only ties the material together – as it would have to – but also makes the listener feel like they’ve entered into some no-light-can-escape alternate universe in which all there is is that thud, the distortion and the growls. Not a headphone record, unless you were looking to start psychotherapy anyhow, its extremity is prevalent enough to feel like a physical force holding you down.
Relentlessly creative and geographically amorphous drone warriors Queen Elephantine compile eight tracks from eight years of their perpetual exploration for Omen on Atypeek Music, which launches with its titular cut, the oldest of the bunch, from 2007. It’s a gritty rolling groove that, even as nascent and riff-noddy as it is, still has underpinnings that might clue the listener in to what’s to come (especially in hindsight) and comes accompanied by the sludgy “The Sea Goat,” a rawer take recorded the same year in Hong Kong. Newest on Omen is the blissfully percussed “Morning Three” and an 18-minute live version of “Search for the Deathless State” from 2010’s Kailash full-length. Lineups, intent and breadth of sound vary widely, but even into the reaches of “1,000 Years” (2012, Providence, RI) and “Shamanic Procession” (2009, New York), Queen Elephantine remain unflinching in their experimentalism and the results here are likewise immersive. Vastly underrated, their work remains a world waiting to be explored.
Consuming undulations of tectonic riffing. Two of them, actually. Watchtower’s Radiant Moon EP serves as their debut on Magnetic Eye, and like their fellow-Melbourne-resident labelmates in Horsehunter, the four-piece Watchtower slam heavy-est riffs into the listener’s cerebral cortex with little concern for lasting aftereffects, all in worship of nod and volume itself. Where the two acts differ is in Watchtower’s overarching sense of grit, harsh vocals pervading both “Radiant Moon” (9:03) itself and the accompanying “Living Heads” (7:09), standalone vocalist Nico Guijt growing through the tonal fray wrought by guitarist Robbie Ingram and bassist Ben Robertson, Joel McGann’s drums pushing the emergent roll forward on “Living Heads,” a High on Fire-style startoff hitting the brakes on tempo to plod over any and all in its path. I’m trying to tell you it’s fucking heavy. Is that getting through? Watchtower had a live single out before Radiant Moon, but I’d be eager to hear what they come up with for a full-length, whether they might shift elsewhere at some point or revel in pure onslaught. Now taking bets.
The use of multiple vocalists gives Roman trio Ape Skull’s ‘70s fetishism a particularly proggy air. Fly Camel Fly is their second full-length for Heavy Psych Sounds behind a 2013 self-titled, and the boogie of “My Way” and “Early Morning,” the solo-topped groove of “Fly Camel Fly,” and the raw Hendrixology of “A is for Ape” position it as a classic rocker through and through. Vocalist/drummer Giuliano Padroni, bassist/vocalist Pierpaolo Pastorelli and guitarist/vocalist Fulvio Cartacci get down to shuffling business quick and stay that way for the 39-minute duration, the Mountainous “Heavy Santa Ana Wind” missing only the complement of a sappy, over-the-top ballad to complete its vintage believability. Even without, the triumvirate stand tall, fuzzy and swinging on Fly Camel Fly, the cowbell of “Tree Stomp” calling to mind the earthy chaos of Blue Cheer without direct mimicry. A quick listen that builds and holds its momentum, but one that holds up too on subsequent visits.
Mad-as-hell trio Hordes have had a slew of releases out over the last eight years or so – EPs, splits, full-lengths with extended tracks – but their experimental take on noise rock topped with Godfleshy shouts arrives satisfyingly stripped down on their latest self-titled five-track EP, recorded in 2013 and pressed newly to tape and CD (also digital). “Eyes Dulled Blind” dials back some of the pummeling after the bruises left by “Cold War Echo,” guitarist/vocalist Alex Hudson at the fore in the JK Broadrick tradition. Centerpiece “Summer” starts with a slow and peaceful ruse before shifting into brash and blown-out punk – Chris Martinez’s hi-hat forward in the mix to further the abrasion – and finally settles into a middle-ground between the two (mind you, the song is four minutes long), and bassist Jon Howard opens “Life Crusher,” which unfolds quickly into the most oppressive push here, while a churning atmosphere pervades the more echo-laden closer “Fall” to reinforce Hordes’ experimentalist claims and steady balance between tonal weight and noise-caked aggression.
There’s a theatrical element underlying Welsh rockers Dead Shed Jokers’ second, self-titled full-length (on Pity My Brain Records). That’s not to say its eight songs are in some way insincere, just that the five-piece of vocalist Hywel Davies, guitarists Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans, bassist Luke Cook and drummer Ashley Jones know there’s a show going on. Davies is in the lead throughout and proves a consummate frontman presence across opener “Dafydd’s Song,” the stomping “Memoirs of Mr. Bryant” and the swinging “Rapture Riddles,” Dead Shed Jokers’ penultimate cut before the cabaret closer “Exit Stage Left (Applause),” but the instrumental backing is up to its own task, and a clear-headed production gives the entire affair a professional sensibility. They veer into and out of heavy rock tropes fluidly, but maintain a tonal fullness wherever they might be headed, and Cook’s bass late in “Made in Vietnam” seems to carry a record’s worth of weight in just its few measures at the forefront before Davies returns for the next round of proclamations.
Berlin’s These Hands Conspire aren’t through the two-minute instrumental “Intro” before they’re showing off the heft of tone that pervades their metallized debut album, Sword of Korhan, but as they demonstrate throughout the following seven tracks and the total 45-minute runtime, there’s plenty to go around. Vocalist Felix delivers an especially noteworthy performance over the dual-guitars of Tom and Stefan, the bass of Paul and Sascha’s drums, but heavy metal storytelling – the sci-fi narrative seems to be a battle in space – is just as much a part of the record’s progressive flow, longer cuts like “Praise to Nova Rider,” “The Beast Cometh,” which directly follows, and “Ambush at Antarox IV” feeding one into the next sonically and thematically. The penultimate title-track brings swinging apex to an ambitious first outing, but the foreboding, winding guitar echoes of “Outro” hint at more of the tale to be told. Could be that Sword of Korhan is just the beginning of a much longer engagement.
Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, since if it weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have paired at all, but Enos and Mangoo pair well. The UK chimp-obsessed space metallers – that’s Enos, on side A – and the Finnish modernized classic heavy rock outfit – that’s Mangoo, on side B – don’t ask much of the listener across their Son of a Gun/The Grey Belly split (on H42 Records) beyond a little over 10 minutes of time and a willingness to follow a groove. “Son of a Gun” finds Enos blending particularly well with Mangoo’s methodology via the inclusion of organ in their swinging but still forward-directed movement, and after that, it’s an easy mesh to flip the platter and find Mangoo’s “The Grey Belly” waiting, its own keys playing a huge role in carrying across the ‘70s-via-‘90s vibe the band projects so well. Flourishes of percussion in the former seem to complement the progressive guitar work in the latter, and whichever side happens to be spinning, it all works out just fine.
Born in 2007 as Spice and the RJ Band and rechristened Band of Spice in 2010 prior to their third album, Feel Like Coming Home, the Swedish unit boasting vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand (founding vocalist of Spiritual Beggars, also Mushroom River Band, currently also in Kayser) release their fourth full-length half a decade later in the form of Economic Dancers on Scarlet Records. It’s a straightforward heavy rocker in the organ-laced European tradition that Spice helped create, with some shades of quirk in the intro to “The Joe” and the arena-ready backing vocals of “In My Blood,” but mostly cutting its teeth on modernized ‘70s jams like “On the Run,” “Down by the Liquor Store” and “True Will,” though the six-minute centerpiece “You Will Call” touches on more psychedelic fare and is backed immediately by two metallers in “You Can’t Stop” and “Fly Away,” so it’s not by any means one-sided, even if at times the mix makes it feel like the 11 tracks are a showcase for the singer whose name is on the marquee.
On June 12, Finnish outfit The Exploding Eyes Orchestra will make their Svart Records debut with I, their aptly-titled first offering. Written as part of a two-album set by guitarist Thomas Corpse and featuring four other members besides himself from Jess and the Ancient Ones, the record and band are an offshoot in the truest sense of the word, but one justified both by the differences in lineup and in sonic personality that are showcased throughout I‘s seven songs and vinyl-ready 41 minutes. Whereas Jess and the Ancient Ones operates with cultish aural intent, having explored psychedelic ritualizing for the last half-decade, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra was birthed as an outlet for the side of Corpse‘s songwriting that specifically didn’t fit that band.
As it turned out, there was plenty of that around. Enough so that along with I, more songs were tracked that will make up II, which is to see release on Svart in 2016. That means that, in a way, we’re only seeing half of a picture with these tracks that will be completed when the second album is issued, but with memorable cuts like “Two-Zero 13,” “The Smoke” and the oddly poppy “My Father the Wolf,” The Exploding Eyes Orchestra have crafted a full-length that stands on its own just as well. It shares some commonalities with Corpse‘s writing for Jess and the Ancient Ones, and having Jess on vocals is bound to draw a few parallels, but even through that, these songs establish an open and varied spirit not at all hindered by the boundaries of aesthetic, embracing sultry blues on “Drawing down the West,” pushing into horror-flick goth-style piano swing on “Black Hound” and unabashedly proffering a love of classic progressive rock on “Crazy Heart,” all while keeping a core of craftsmanship and structure that ties it all together.
Where The Exploding Eyes Orchestra might go on their second outing, I couldn’t say, but the soul and breadth infused into these recordings makes one eager to find out. Jess and the Ancient Ones are getting ready to hit the studio as well, but Corpse took some time out to answer questions about the making of I — and, by extension, II — and you can find the Q&A under a full stream of the album, which it’s my pleasure to bring to you on the player below.
Interview with Thomas Corpse: Easing Burdens
How much material had amassed before you realized The Exploding Eyes Orchestra was a project separate from Jess and the Ancient Ones? What is it about the songs that you thought didn’t fit that concept?
I noticed it while writing them. We were having a creative break with the Ancient Ones, and I had nothing else to do than just play acoustic guitar on my couch. Oh, I also drank like a million liters of coffee, and smoked a thousand smokes. It was really refreshing to jam endlessly, so I just kept writing and writing. In the end, I did not wish to add so many layers on them, so a smaller group was formed to perform them.
What is the timeline on songs coming together? How long has this stuff been around?
They came along pretty fast. Maybe six months from zero to 100, when it comes to writing and arranging the music. We recorded 14 songs in the same sessions… whuh, it was fun! Recordings took place in 2013-2014, so the material has been laying around for a while. The wheels of Sawonia move forth slowly I guess, hahah!
How was it being in the studio for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra as opposed to Jess and the Ancient Ones?
Well there’s a few less musicians playing, so there’s much more space to move around within the songs. Also, in a way these sessions were more “free-spirited.” I think we learned some valuable things, and of course the Ancient Ones will also benefit from this fact. That being said, the Ancient Ones are just about to hit the studio!
What was the time in the studio like? How were the songs put together and how much input did the whole band have in the process?
Long hours, and many late nights. We worked really hard, as we had so little time to record all of those songs. At some point, the mood was really gloomy, as the lack of sleep gets to you… but we pulled through with smiles on our faces.
The band has a major influence what comes to song arrangements, as I always leave room for interpretation. In this way, you get all the levels.
Tell me about splitting up the tracks into two albums. At what point did you know you had enough that you wanted to use that you had to approach it that way?
It was supposed to be a double album, but when listening to it as a whole, it felt too heavy to take in at once. Thus we split the material in two, to ease the listener’s burden, hahah!
Is there something different expressed between I and II, or are they meant as complements for each other, coming from the same sessions?
The II album has more subtle stuff in it, and there is even one song that is sung in Finnish. At the end of the day, the albums feel like Ying and Yang, so I guess you could say that they complement each other. My personal favourites are on the second album, as the songs in question are really personal to me.
Will you continue to write for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra on the side from Jess and the Ancient Ones? Are there other pieces that have yet to be recorded?
I sure will, and there are already seven new songs readied back here at home. Maybe the next studio session will take place during the winter of 2015? But first things first, as the Radio Aquarius will soon start the transmission from the planes of the Ancient Ones. Feed your minds!
Posted in audiObelisk on May 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Finnish title of opener “Vihkimys” on Seremonia‘s third album, Kristalliarkki (review here) — due out May 8 on Svart Records — translates to “initiation,” and for anyone who hasn’t yet gotten on board with the five-piece’s blend of classic garage, buzztone cult rock and psychedelic weirdness, no doubt its chanting incantations will be just that. The follow-up to 2013’s Ihminen and 2012’s Seremonia debut (track stream here) is more fluid and comfortable in its boogie than the band have ever been, and that seems only to allow them to be even stranger in their conjurings, the album making odd turns as it moves (mostly) at a shuffling clip toward its sprawling title-track through cuts like “Musta liekki,” “Alpha ja Omega” and the wah-drenched “Lusiferin lapset,” the Finnish cadence of the lyrics as delivered by vocalist Noora Federley — joined in the band by guitarists Teemu Markkula and Ville Pirinen, bassist Ilkka Vekka and drummer Erno Taipale — only adding to the late-’60s-made-heavy psychedelic otherworldliness of the overarching vibe.
As they have on their past two full-lengths, Seremonia craft a proto-metal all their own, not retro in the sense of simply copying methods of songwriting and production, but taking those methods and creating an individual identity from the focus on natural tones, weighted grooves and eerie melodicism. More “forest power” than “flower power,” the five-piece add flourish of strange shooting sounds, Echoplex and fuzzy organ tones to “Vapauden polku,” which is the longest track on Kristalliarkki save for the 14-minute first part of the two-part title-track finale (the second part of which, it’s worth noting, is 1:14), resulting in an almost animalian effect between the rolling verses. That scratching organ gets a solo in the second half where the guitars otherwise might stand on their own, and in the last minute, the track launches from a final verse into an airy final chorus that would seem to indicate their having found the “path to freedom” referenced in the title.
From there, Kristalliarkki launches some of its most insistent boogie in “Kuolema voitta” en route to the more lumbering, flute-laden groove of “Jokainen askel” and the aforementioned two-part closer, but we’ll pause at “Vapauden polku” for the time being since that’s the track I have pleasure today of hosting as a premiere ahead of the album’s arrival in a week’s time. The last couple years have made Seremonia something of a well-kept secret, and though there’s little doubt part of that is linguistic, I’ll say because I feel like it needs to be said that while I don’t speak Finnish — I wish I did, and not just so I’d be more likely to know what Seremonia were talking about — the atmosphere of Kristalliarkki, its warmth of tone and presence, its grooving push, its carefully executed flow, carry over despite any barrier language might present. There. It’s said.
I hope you take a listen to “Vapauden polku” on the player below, and I hope you enjoy:
Finnish heavy psych rockers Seremonia dive deeper than ever into the dark psychedelic abyss with their third album Kristalliarkki (The Crystal Ark). With lyrics (still all in their native tongue) revolving around the spiritual cult practices and teachings of a mysterious doomsday cult, the album also explores the cultist mindset musically.
The heavy riffing, the psychedelic solos, the out-of-control drum fills, the blood-chilling vocal delivery and the collective free rock freak-outs all go way beyond just playing good ol’ heavy rock. Seremonia is a band on a sacred mission, possessed by the black flame of rock’n’roll.
Kristalliarkki bears their trademark garage doom sound and catchy riffage, and adds an abundance of acid rock experimentalism, proto punk anger, sacred music bliss and even some cosmic jazz flawors in the 15-minute namepiece of the album. It’s a hard rocking hard rock record, but a wonderfully weird one. Even by Seremonia’s weirdo standards.
Noora Federley – vocals Teemu Markkula – guitar Ville Pirinen – guitar Erno Taipale – drums, flute Ilkka Vekka – bass
Posted in audiObelisk on April 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Is there such a thing as psychedelic extremity? Finnish four-piece Domovoyd aren’t through the opener of their self-titled sophomore LP before they make a case for it. Granted, “Domovoyage” is 17 minutes long in leading off Domovoyd‘s Domovoyd, which is out May 8 on respected purveyor Svart Records, but I think the point holds despite the substantial runtime. And “Domovoyage” is hardly a completely summary of what the double-vinyl has to offer, the subsequent “Ambrosian Perfume” reinventing pre-New Wave proclamations atop repetitive wah and far-back strumming before shifting into grunge riffing and echoing shouts, a solo taking hold at 6:15 that carries through the remainder of the track’s 9:41. The rules of songwriting are flung open across Domovoyd‘s freaked-out 59-minute span, and whether it’s a perversely weird turn, as in “Ambrosian Perfume,” or a sprawling exploration like the bookending 17-minute closer “Vivid Insanity” — otherwise known as “side D” — the returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Oskar Tunderberg, guitarist Niko Lehdontie, bassist Dmitry Melet and Axel Solimeis offer a resonant progression from the debut, their penchant for weirdness matched by their command of sound.
“Caustic Afterglow” mounts tense spoken word drama over pervasive, swirling drone, but at four minutes long and providing a severe end to side B, it’s more than an interlude. On the CD and digital versions of the album, “Caustic Afterglow” leads into “Mystagogue,” a buzzing and exploding jam that, like that riff that took over “Ambrosian Perfume,” has some basis in grunge to go with its weighted tonality. More than the earlier cut, however, “Mystagogue” builds to and hits an apex within its 4:38 pays off the prior trades between restraint and release, Tunderberg‘s vocals shifting between semi-spoken parts and rougher shouting, Domovoyd never quite allowing themselves to give completely over to space rock impulses, but always seeming to be way up in the atmosphere anyhow. “Mystagogue” makes a fitting summary of some of the noisy psych the opener also has on offer, but there isn’t really one single track that encapsulates the scope of the record, as “Amor Fati” proves almost immediately with a darker, thicker roll, choice snare work from Solimeis and a break into off-kilter strumming from Ledontie and Tunderberg, who’s backed in the verse by a high falsetto so deep in the mix as to make you wonder if it’s really there. I’d give you a definitive answer on that if I had one.
Sub-screaming and noise wash caps “Amor Fati,” but there’s a final spoken line from Tunderberg as well that I won’t spoil here, and “Vivid Insanity” takes hold following a few seconds’ silence with a quiet guitar figure that develops peacefully over the first seven minutes, drums coming in, effects lightly swirling around, but a stop at 8:40 brings the full-toned chaos of a verse, and the heft and madness continues to churn its way forward in leads and shouts and rumble and thud as Domovoyd push toward the 14th minute and a gradual comedown in intensity, finally ending with a stretch of brighter droning and other noise, not abrasive, but humming out a waveform on a long fade to close out. The title of the closer is perhaps a fitting descriptor for Domovoyd‘s overarching perspective throughout the album, but both words in it are worth emphasizing, and by that I mean that the foursome not only craft this strange, varied, at-times-bludgeoning, at-times-intricate brew, but do so with an underlying sense of purpose to their work and consciousness unrelenting, making the album both a fascinating listen and at times utterly terrifying. For what it’s worth, Domovoyd seem to be perfectly comfortable in that alternate-dimension morass, and the more one hears the record, the more it makes sense they’d put it out as a self-titled. Speaking sonically, that psychedelic extremity is their home.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere “Mystagogue” from Domovoyd‘s Domovoyd for streaming. Please find it below, followed by more info on the album, and enjoy:
The young psychonauts of Domovoyd are onto their sixth year of existence in this dimension, and, having taken many acid heads by surprise with their debut album Oh Sensibility (2013), are ready to deliver a second transmission from worlds beyond and within. Scheduled to appear on the planet on May 8th, the album is self titled and it will be available on CD, double vinyl and digital.
Domovoyd’s eponymous 60-minute behemoth pays tribute to progressive rock masterpieces of yesteryear in the sense that it is, for lack of a better word, a concept album. Storytelling and mythmaking in the works, if you will, but distilled through an overdriven stack of amplifiers.
The album’s six tracks deal with inner discovery of the psychedelic kind and ultimately with the loss and destruction of all conceptions of self and the world. Old ego is a too much thing, as Charlie Manson once said.
Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here we are, the final day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy this whole time, but the challenge has been worth it. Will I do another one? I guess that depends on how backed up records get. Even with all of this, I haven’t managed to fit in everything, so yeah, it doesn’t seem unlikely I’ll wind up with fodder for more of this kind of thing. Once again, not at all a hardship to have people interested enough in having me write about their music to send it to me. Not at all something I’m going to complain about.
Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read or share the link or whatnot, and of course to bands and labels for caring enough to send the music.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Bubonic Bear, Shaved Heat
In and out of their three-song Shaved Heat tape in under 10 minutes, one could hardly accuse Philly guitar/drum duo Bubonic Bear of being overly elaborate in their approach, but the tracks, particularly closer “Clean,” drive home their post-hardcore rawness with suitable intensity. No frills, just impact. Vocals are raw shouts and the blue tape, which is limited to 50 copies through Bastard Sloth Records, has a kind of avant garde charm, underground in the house-show sense and mean, mean, mean, but probably nice enough to talk to. “Chlorine,” “Witch Pyle” and “Clean” are arranged shortest to longest, but all three hover around three minutes and tear into frenetic turns and let’s-call-it-spirited pummel. Andrew and Dustin, the pair involved, have a slew of EPs and splits and one full-length under their belt, and their six-plus years together are evident in the sheer fact that they can execute material so chaotic without having it fall apart under their stamping feet.
From its biker chug to its unabashed confrontationalism and attitude-laced approach to songs like “Who Crowned You King” and “Axe to Grind,” The F.T.W.’s Vendetta Kind of Mood just screams oldschool New York. Not the New York that’s the family-friendly (as long as you’re rich) center of the fashion world, but the New York that was really eager to tell you about how it was going to kick your ass, if not actually do so. The 10-track vinyl self-release is clean in its production and straightforward structurally, but has a gritty undercurrent anyway, showing some thrash (or is that NYHC? So hard to tell sometimes) influence in “Bleed Out” and a bit of rawer punk in “Billy Bats,” though they wait till the closer to actually extract a “Pound of Flesh,” which they slice with a choice solo and some Judas Priest riffing from guitarist TheMajor Nelson, joined in the trio by bassist/vocalist Michael Dolan and drummer Jason Meraz. Something tells me they’re not abbreviating “for the win.”
Kristalliarkki is the third offering from Finland’s Seremonia on Svart Records, and while all of their albums have thrilled in that quiet, warm-toned, psych-proto-ritual kind of way, the crystal ark is where it’s at. The record lands big with penultimate 14-minute sprawler jam “Kristalliarkki I,” open enough to set down a blanket and have a picnic next to the tree line, but before they get there, the five-piece of vocalist Noora Federley, guitarists Teemu Markkula and Ville Pirinen drummer/flautist Erno Taipale and bassist Ilkka Vekka vibe out fuzzy hypnosis on eight shorter native-language tracks, otherworldly from the word “go” and held together with a glue of ‘70s-style shufflebuzz on “Lusiferin Lapset” and the quick bouncer “Kuolema Voittaa” that beg to be dug on repeat visits. At just 1:14, “Kristalliarkki II” taps punker soul to close out with a sudden finish that leaves one wondering what the hell just happened, and no doubt that’s exactly what Seremonia had in mind.
JPT Scare Band, Acid Acetate Excursion & Rape of the Titan’s Sirens
A twofer! Kansas City acid rockers JPT Scare Band – Jeff Littrell (“J”), Paul Grigsby (“P”) and Terry Swope (“T”) – dig into their archival material to couple their first two records, Acid Acetate Excursion and Rape of the Titan’s Sirens, for Ripple Music. Both were recorded in the ‘70s but not released until 1994 and 1998, respectively, and the trio’s blown-out heavy continues to wear its years well, the bluesy fire in Swope’s guitar work leading the way through 81 minutes of long-range jams and classic vibes, still underrated after all these years. The second record has more bite tonally than the first, the recording is rougher, but I won’t take anything away from the force behind the 13-minute “King Rat” from the debut either. Think of it as an archival release more than a reissue, and if you haven’t yet been introduced to JPT Scare Band, think of the vinyl as an educational expense.
Bordeaux trio Libido Fuzz trip out pretty hard on heavy ‘70s influences, but I feel like their Kaleido Lumo Age debut LP (on Pink Tank Records) is all the more praiseworthy for the simple fact that it doesn’t sound like Graveyard. Casting off much of the blues that seems to have afflicted so many the world over, Thibault Guezennec, Pierre-Alexis Mengual and Rory O’Callaghan dip back maybe a couple years before ’71, let’s call it ’68, but filter the Hendrix and The Who influences through modern tonality, which means that a boogier like “Raw Animal” and the proto-stoner shuffle of “Enter the Occult” satisfy in concept and execution. Each of the evident two sides caps with a cut past the eight-minute mark, and both “Redemption of the Bison” and album closer “Haight Ashbury” offer significant heavy psych immersion, though it’s the side B finale that ultimately wins out thanks to its second half journey into noise wash, lysergic swirl, last-minute nod and epilogue of birdsong-esque feedback.
Filth-caked Montreal trio Dopethrone eat crust and shit riffs on their Totem Cat-released fourth record, Hochelaga, coating themselves in backpatch-worthy tone and throat-searing screams that would do Bongzilla proud. Weedian scummery through and through. Save for “Dry Hitter,” each of Hochelaga’s seven tracks starts with a sample, as if to emphasize the utter stoner fuckall with which Dopethrone – guitarist/vocalist Vincent, bassist Vyk and drummer Borman – execute their rolling grooves and lumbering viciousness once it kicks in. “Sludgekicker,” “Vagabong” and “Riff Dealer” tell the tale, and the record’s 40 minutes play out in largely unipolar but universally righteous fashion, “Scum Fuck Blues” summing up the ethic nicely with the line, “Smoke, drink, die.” Dopethrone make a show of their rawness, but Hochelaga’s fullness of tone and clarity of aesthetic speak to an underlying sense of knowing what they’re doing, and a record this cohesive doesn’t happen by accident, much as it might be telling you otherwise. That doesn’t mean they’re not also high as hell, just that they can keep it together.
A presumed sequel to their 2013 debut, They Fall, Hamburg trio The Moth‘s sophomore full-length, And Then Rise, pulls off heavy rock ethics with a heavy metal sense of purpose and basks in an overarching tension throughout its nine tracks. Fast or slow, doomed or thrashing, cuts like “Battle is Over” and “Travel Light” carry a progressive feel to match their hooks, later doomers like “Slowly to Die” and closer “Fire” – which hides a bonus track in its span – holding onto the tightness even as the relinquish in terms of pacing. Dark atmospherically but brazenly intricate, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Freden, bassist/vocalist Cécile and drummer Tiffy are never showy or putting on a technical clinic, but everything seems to be geared toward the purpose of enhancing the songs, which of course is the ideal. Because the sound is so condensed, it might take a couple listens for And Then Rise to sink in – not saying the chug of “Last Times” doesn’t also have immediate appeal – but The Moth’s genre-bending compositions prove worth the active engagement.
I’m pretty sure War Iron could play fast and it would still sound slow. They don’t really try it. Deep, deep low end is cut through by indecipherable-but-get-their-point-across-anyway screams on the Northern Irish four-piece’s third album, Precession of the Equinoxes, which plods out a grueling extremity of doom across its four included tracks, the shortest of which is the 7:37 “Summon Demon Scream the Abyss,” a harsh ritual of sonic heft and disaffection well met by its compatriots, from the churning opener “Bludgeon Lord,” to the title-track – which actually does up the pace somewhat, relatively speaking (and yes, it still sounds slow), and only temporarily – which crushes hopes and eardrums alike leading into the closer “From Napalm Altar,” a final affirmation of the deathly miseries at heart in War Iron’s approach, vocalist Baggy going high-low with screams and growls over the Ross’ guitar, Dave’s bass and Marty’s drums. It is a fearsome and challenging listen.
Guitarist/vocalist Owen Carty, formerly of underappreciated, coulda-been-contender sludge rockers Dopefight, lends his riffy services to the cumbersomely-named trio Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (also stylized all-lowercase), who make their debut with the self-released five-song Earth Hog EP. Bassist Will Hart and drummer Mark Buckwell swing heavy and land hard on the opening title-track, and there’s not much letup from there, wah bass and cowbell leading to some fervent stomp in the second half of “Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs,” which starts out as a punk song, and “Devil’s Buttermilk” brazenly tackling Southern riffing without the chestbeating that way, way too often accompanies. More cowbell there too, because if you’re going to do something, overdo it. “Mother Chub” and “Riff Richard” close out, the latter with a slowdown that emphasizes the point: the kush may be bad, but the riffs are primo. Silly name or not, I’ll take this shit any day of the week, and considering Earth Hog was recorded in a living room, I have the feeling it’s only going to get louder from here. Right on.
With a sense that they’re continuing to feel out where they want to be sonically, Brazilian three-piece Red Mess follow-up last year’s Crimson EP (review here) with the newly-issued two-tracker Drowning in Red – apparently working on a theme chromatically – the cuts “Daybreak’s Dope” and “Ready to Go” impressive in performance and tone as guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim shreds out on the latter atop Lucas Klepa’s bass and Douglas Villa’s speaker-popping kick. Each song has a markedly different approach, with “Daybreak’s Dope” topping seven minutes via a Sleep-style rollout while, true to its title, “Ready to Go” seems to have no interest in holding its shuffle still. Pairing them shows sonic breadth, and in the case of the second, a bit of ‘70s influence to coincide with what they showed on Crimson, though the results will still ultimately be familiar. They’re making progress, though, and their cohesiveness and catchiness through stylistic shifts is encouraging.
Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I finished yesterday’s reviews, I felt suitably beat, but as ever, there was a bit of catharsis to it too. Today’s pile takes us all the way to the other end of the world and back again to my (relative) back yard, and then loops around one more time for good measure with a few stops in between. While I’m coherent enough to form sentences, you’ll pardon me if I get right to it.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
If the name Motherslug or the cover art look familiar, it’s because the Melbourne double-guitar five-piece initially released their self-titled EP late in 2012 (review here). This NoSlip Records release, however, takes the tracks from that, couples them with cuts from Motherslug’s subsequent outing, a 2014 two-tracker called Three Kings in Darkness, and remasters both for vinyl as one 39-minute full-length. There’s a bit of progression evident in the newer cuts, “Trippin’ on Evil” and “Three Kings in Darkness,” but the LP smartly arranges them so that each ends its respective side, led into by two songs from the self-titled, so the impression is more that Motherslug are expanding their riffy, Southern-style sludge rock sound – which is still true, it just initially happened over two releases – rather than they’re mixing and matching different recordings. By the time you get to either, however, Motherslug will have already bowled over you with rolling, thick sludge riffs that could just as easily have come from Maryland or Virginia as Australia.
Allston(e) newcomers Worshipper make an accomplished-sounding debut with Black Corridor/High above the Clouds, two self-released tracks that mark their first release as a band. The two-guitar four-piece balance classic metal riffs and doom tendencies with soaring-style clean vocals and fast-moving grooves, as much Candlemass as High on Fire. “Black Corridor” wows with its solo but more with its hook, guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney sharing vocals while Alejandro Necochea adds guitar and Dave Jarvis draws it all together on drums, and “High above the Clouds” adds some choice early-Dio “Egypt”-ology to the mix. It’s a sense of grandeur that’s neither overblown nor mishandled by the winding track, which coupled with its predecessor demonstrates Worshipper’s firm grip on a style melding heavy rock and metal into a take of their own, and a progression beginning that seems to have a definite idea of where it wants to end up. One can’t help but look forward to finding out.
Hard to think of a band from Portland, Oregon, these days as being underrated, but Ape Machine fit the bill all the same. The four-piece of vocalist Caleb Heinze, guitarist Ian Watts, bassist Brian True and drummer Damon de la Paz played Germany’s Freak Valley festival as part of a 2013 European tour in support of the then-recently-released Mangled by the Machine (review here), their third album and Ripple Music debut, and accordingly, most of what shows up on the 48-minute Live at Freak Valley comes from that record, later album cuts like the swaying “Strange are the People” and stomp-slide-fueled “Ruling with Intent” leading to a run through Mangled by the Machine’s first five tracks, in order, to close the set. With a cover of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” (something they also did on their second record) in tow with others from their first two records, Live at Freak Valley makes a solid intro to a group more people should know.
A compilation that draws from Churchburn’s 2013 self-titled and two tracks recorded late in 2013/early in 2014 – opener “Embers of Human Ash” and the subsequent “V” – The Awaiting Coffins revels in its extremity of doom and no-light-shall-pass atmospherics. The duo of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Suzuki (ex-Vital Remains, among others) and Ray McCaffrey (ex-Sin of Angels) issue the CD/LP via Armageddon Shop, and while there are plenty of droning moments, acoustic interludes and stretches of depressive noise, the Rhode Island outfit is primarily brutal. Suzuki, joined on vocals for the first two cuts by guitarist Kevin Curley and bassist Mike Cardoso, leads a pummeling charge in “V” that’s more death than death-doom, but far be it from me to quibble. For “Come Forth the Swarm,” the Sin of Angels cover “Crown of Fallen Kings” and “Kneel upon Charred Remnants,” it’s just McCaffrey and Suzuki, and the dynamic is different and the recording rawer, but the bleak territory being explored has a similar root. Add on an unlisted cover of Celtic Frost’s “Return to the Eve,” and The Awaiting Coffins is even more of a sure thing.
Instrumental save for some samples, spoken proclamations and field recordings, Thrust/Parry was released by Belgian outfit OMSQ in limited numbers via Navalorama Records on CD to mark the occasion of a late-2014 UK tour, and it showcases an outfit of rare sonic adventurousness. Progressive, heavy structures unfold across three overarching movements in the 68-minute whole of the album, which at any moment makes shifts between dense riffs and crashing drums and exploratory washes of noise sound not only smooth but fitting, culminations like “North Sea” and 16-minute closer “4:48” as much about finishing a story as providing a sonic payoff, each cut serving not only the movement of which it’s component, but also the overarching flow of the record as whole. Stylistically wide open an unhindered by genre constraints, Thrust/Parry is a challenging listen that satisfies in proportion to how much one is willing to shift along with its changes in mood and style. Evocative throughout, it proves more than worth the effort.
Swiss five-piece Unhold trace their lineage back to an early-‘90s demo, but Towering (on Czar of Crickets) is their fourth album since their 2001 full-length debut, Walking Blackwards, and their first offering in seven years since Gold Cut in 2008. Something of an unexpected return from the Bern troupe, then, but not unwelcome, their Neurosis-influenced post-hardcore/post-metal finding renewed expression in the moody unfolding of “I Belong” or the tense bellow of the later, keyboard-infused “Hydra,” moments of triumph in ambient/crushing tradeoffs of “Voice Within” as guitarists Thomas Tschuor and Philipp Thöni step back and pianist Miriam Wolf takes lead vocals for a movement almost Alcest-like in its melodic course. Drummer Daniel Fischer and bassist Leo Matkovic are less a foundation than part of Towering’s nodding, modern-proggy whole, and it probably works better that way in smoothing out the various turns in extended pieces like the title-track or “Dawn,” which provides the apex of the album with the calmer “Ascending” and “Death Dying” as an epilogue.
Three words: Rock and roll. With Boston four-piece The Heave-Ho, it’s less about subgenre and more about paying homage to a classic ideal of straightforward expression. Dead Reckoning, the debut full-length from the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Pete Valle (ex-Quintaine Americana), bassist Keith “Barry” Schleicher (ex-Infernal Overdrive), drummer Dylan Wilson and lead guitarist Lawrence O’Toole, is eight songs (plus a closing radio edit, presumably for WEMF) of unpretentious rendition, steady in its delivery of grown-up-punker hooks and barroom rock such that, when Valle calls for “guitar!” prior to the solo in “Buffalo,” it’s entirely without irony or cynicism. Would be hard for “Thirsty Jesus” not to be a highlight on its title alone, but the lyrics also hold up. With a clean production style, centerpiece moment of clarity in “Afraid to Die,” and particularly riotous finish in “The Line,” Dead Reckoning has little use for stylistic nuance and a confident delivery across the board. Drunk as it is, it does not stumble.
Though Adelaide three-guitar six-piece Crypt title their debut release Kvlt MMXIV, it’s actually a Jan. 2015 release, a half-hour’s worth of stoner chicanery pressed up in a recycled-material digipak with a fold-out liner poster – the lyrics, yes, are written in a rune font – and the disc held in place by a piece of cork. The presentation of the songs themselves is no less off the wall, the lumbering “Green Butter” taking hold from the crust-raw opener “Siberian Exile” with unhinged low-end, drum stomp and some deceptively subtle airy guitar, and the weirdo blues howl of the following “These Last Days” only broadens the scope. Seems fair to say “expect the unexpected” since so much effort has been put into throwing off the frame of reference, but as the fuzz of “Idle Minds” and ambience into righteous groove of closer “Dead River” show, Crypt have more working in their favor than variety for its own sake, namely a fire in their delivery that burns away any slim chance this material had of sounding stale.
Ferocious death-doom meets with melodic atmospheres on Oceanwake’s second album, Sunless – a title that’s not quite a full summary of what the Finnish five-piece have on offer throughout the four tracks/44 minutes. Opener “The Lay of an Oncoming Storm,” also the longest cut at 15:35 (immediate points), shifts back and forth between lumbering brutality and sparse guitar atmospherics, and while one waits for the inevitable clean vocals that would put Oceanwake in league with countrymen Swallow the Sun, they don’t come yet. Instead, the track explodes into crashes and screams. Ten-minute closer “Ephemeral” holds the most satisfying build, but between the two, “Parhelion” (9:09) and “Avanturine” (8:03) manage to remind of the particular melancholic beauty of death-doom – including some of those melodic vocals – and how resonant its contrast of light and dark can be when held together by an emotional core as resonant as that of Oceanwake. Sunless is gorgeous and devastating, and not necessarily alternating between the two.
While one struggles not to be skeptical of any release in this day and age that opens with a “Radio Edit,” I won’t discount the quality of songwriting L.A.-based Lunar Electric display throughout their self-titled EP. Now a duo driven by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura, the band is highly-stylized but brims with a classic heavy rock swagger in “Bread and Circuses” (the aforementioned radio edit) and the subsequent “Moonlight,” a steady swing emerging in layers of heavy riffing and DiMura’s own croon, pushed ahead by the straightforward drumming of Kaleen Reading and the low-end heft of bassist Geena Spigarelli. They make a solid trio across “Moonlight” and “Sleepwaker,” which follows with its chugging break foreshadowing closer “Crossfire Child” (video premiere here) while building a tension of its own, though it seems unlikely that whatever Lunar Electric do next will have the same lineup because of geographic spread. Too bad. While young, and somewhat brooding, Lunar Electric nonetheless offer up a work of marked potential in their EP’s quick 17-minute span.