With two full-lengths under their belt of skin-peeling noise rock, Trondheim, Norway, duo Barren Womb offer an aesthetic shift with their upcoming Record Store Day EP, Crown Control. Set for release April 22 through All Good Clean Records (distribution through Stickman), the five-track trades distorted guitar for banjo and adopts a neofolk and Americana stylization that removes the traces of post-Kvelertak black ‘n’ roll that otherwise make themselves felt in their sound. True, a song like “Devil Run the Game” from their 2015 sophomore long-player, Nique Everything, did much the same, but Crown Control brings this more into focus and is a more brazen move away from weighted sonic impact.
For example, listening to “Freak Flag,” for which Barren Womb have a new video premiering below, my most immediate comparison point for what Timo Silvola and Tony Gonzahl are doing is 16 Horsepower‘s “Straw Foot,” and that doesn’t feel like an accident on the band’s part. To listen to the lyrics of “Freak Flag,” there’s plenty of disaffection on offer, as well as some willfully less-than-charming raunch, but where they end up gets to the underlying message at the heart of the song. After urging an audience toward what they call “the dark side” and “the cool side” in the chorus, they finish with the lines, “…Because the worst is the best in a hive mind/And no one should have nothing to hide.”
What that last couplet lacks in grammar, it makes up in justifying the song’s overarching sense of alienation, and it seems that loud or quiet, Barren Womb bring a purpose to their material that’s about making a statement at least as much about conveying the wretchedness driving them toward that statement in the first place. I haven’t heard the rest of Crown Control, but there’s definitely an element of critique in the “Freak Flag” video as well, which features more hot dog eating than I, even as an American — and all we do is eat hot dogs; well, that and wars of aggression, anyway — have seen in a while, and a bit of NSFW-ness for decent measure.
Just a heads up on that.
Barren Womb‘s Crown Control is out April 22 and can be preordered now from All Good Clean Records. PR wire info follows the clip below.
Barren Womb, “Freak Flag” official video (NSFW)
Directed by Hanna Fauske. From the EP “Crown Control” available now on All Good Clean Records.
On April 22nd, Records Store Day, the Trondheim-based power duo Barren Womb will release Crown Control, an EP somewhat out of the ordinary for the duo.
Lyrically it’s still rooted in their usual bleak universe, but the distorted guitars and drums have mostly been replaced by banjo and acoustic guitars. Crown Control comprises 5 winding, misanthropic tracks in the Dark Americana-/Folk-tradition, and will be released by All Good Clean Records.
The first hundred copies will be released as a special handnumbered edition including a signed insert and lyrics sheet.
No doubt Helsinki-based fest Blowup Vol. 3 will continue to take shape over the next couple months — October is still a ways off — but they make a strong opening statement anyhow. We already knew that Italian cosmic doomers Ufomammut would be on the road supporting their new album, 8, which is out in September (info here), but to find the homage paid to native Finnish doom in welcoming Spiritus Mortis, which features former Reverend Bizarre vocalist Sami Hynninen, is particularly in keeping with tradition. I’ll admit I don’t really know Russian outfit Phurpa, but their name is incredible enough to warrant investigation. I’ll get on it. Like with the Bandcamp stream at the bottom of this post. That’ll be a good place to start.
The info below was run through an internet giant’s translation matrix, so take it more as a work of linguistic impressionism rather than pure technicality, but the dates and links and band names are right, so I think the important parts are covered.
Blowup Vol. 3 Helsinki, Korjaamo
October 13 – October 15
Korjaamo Töölönkatu 51, 00250 Helsinki
Confirmed acts acts so far are:
Phurpa (RUS) Spiritus Mortis (FIN) Ufomammut (ITA)
This October, Helsinki is again on the hardest place to be.
Blowup festival was created to meet the autumn gaping vacuum of doom and other marginal, experimental heavy music lovers in the calendar. The number of visitors and the feedback received has shown that there is a demand for the event. Blowup Vol. 3 will be held from 13 to 14.10. at Korjaamo in Helsinki.
Vaunusali has served as the main venue of the festival successfully. the spirit of the underground exude an event, but so organized professionally manicured evenings have attracted incense for both customers and artists alike.
In previous occasions we have seen blowup genres international top names such as Ufomammut, Year of No Light, 40 Watt Sun, Conan and Lucifer, as well as domestic artists such as Skepticism, Callisto and Emma-candidate Oranssi Pazuzu.
This year, Blowup Vol. 3 of the festival artists presents a visual artist Tekla Vályn photographs. “Close of each artist into the dark space, where I spent hours listening to music and watching the darkness. The works are the fruits of darkness, generated by the music and visions of darkness KALEIDOSCOPE” The first artists are Ufomammut, Phurpa and Spiritus Mortis.
Ufomammut (ITA) Ufohavaintoja have been reported in the 2010s, repeatedly in Finland. And rightly so, because italialaistriolla has played an important role in both of these latitudes doom / stoner popularity of the ground work that Blow Up That Gramophone story. Helsinki arrival Ufomammut is topical once again, because of massive riffs and psychedelic moods business card featuring a band has just finished their new album.
PHURPA (RUS) The ritual is a word with many bands now like to describe gigs. Phurpan in connection with any other word does not come to mind. Echoes from Tibet, Tantric esoteriaa, mantras throat, voice skulls. Phurpa is a terrorist mind. An explosion of fragments of consciousness after the occurrence of the enlarged Pick it all makes sense.
Spiritus Mortis (FIN) Finnish doom metal list can not talk about without mentioning two bands: laid the groundwork for Spiritus Mortis and magnitude that brought Reverend Bizarre. Blowup will be like ouroboros experiences, because the latter vocalist Sami Hynninen aka Albert Witchfinder occurs for the last time the ranks.
Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.
With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.
Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.
Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.
They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.
Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.
The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.
Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.
There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.
Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.
Granted, we’re still running on the backup server, but it’s been a couple weeks at this point anyway, so it’s time for a new round of adds to The Obelisk Radio. Some of this stuff is brand new, some isn’t out yet, and some is older, so it’s a pretty decent mix on that front, and between REZN, The Fërtility Cült and Cosmic Fall, I certainly think we’ve got heavy psychedelia covered. Fortunately there’s the longform doom extremity of Oceanwake and the kraut-worship electronics of Jenzeits (also longform, as it happens) to offer some balance, lest we go drifting off into the universe never to be heard from again. Can’t have that happening.
Before we dig in, thanks to Slevin as ever for his diligent work in keeping the Radio afloat. He’s got a drive recovery running now that will hopefully bring back everything that was there before. It’s been a whole thing, but progress is being made and I appreciate him tossing this stuff in with the backup material in the interim. Thanks to you as well for reading and listening.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for March 14, 2017:
REZN, Let it Burn
All-caps Chicago-based newcomers REZN make their deceptively ambitious debut with Let it Burn, a self-released 10-songer checking in at a willfully sprawling 59 minutes that blends psychedelic drift, grunge fuckall and neo-stoner fuzz consumption to welcome effect. One gets shades of Mars Red Sky from opener “Relax,” but later doomer cuts like the blown-out cosmic smash of “Harvest the Void” or the rolling “Fall into the Sky” ensures the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Phil Cangelosi, drummer Patrick Dunn and guitarist/vocalist Rob McWilliams are working on their own wavelength, and flourish of sitar from McWilliams and Dunn on the dynamic raga-infused “Rezurrection,” as well as Dunn‘s percussion and Spencer Ouellette‘s modular synth in the two-minute interlude “Pipe Dream” that leads into the initial spoken sample of the Dead Meadow-style fuzzer “The Creature” only add further checked-out-of-life charm to the offering as a whole. “Relax” and “Wake” at the outset speak to some impulse on the part of the band to tie their material together, but that comes through even more as “The Creature” transitions into “Fall into the Sky” and the suitably-spacewalking “Orbit” leads to the noisy start of rumble-laden closer “Astral Sage” later on. REZN leave themselves room to grow into their approach in moments like these, and pieces like “Harvest the Void,” “The Creature” and “Wake” certainly speak to a memorable songwriting process in development, but Let it Burn already shows them a potent brew of weighted lysergics.
Nestled into the heavy hotbed of Tampere, Finland, The Fërtility Cült continue their progressive push into reverb-laden heft with late-2016’s A Forest of Kings, their third long-player behind 2013’s Heavenly Bodies and their 2011 debut, Eschatology (review here). In an admirably crowded scene, the five-piece are distinguished for their tonal breadth, use-not-overuse of echo-laden saxophone and organ and general willingness to meander without giving up an underlying principal of craft or direction. All of this is on display in the A Forest of Kings opener “Blood of Kings,” but the highlight of the album has to be the centerpiece “The City on the Edge of Forever” (taking its name from the highlight episode of the original Star Trek, written by Harlan Ellison), which successfully fuses jazzy rhythm with a patient, psychedelic execution to the sacrifice of neither. Also the longest inclusion at 10:58, it’s the umlaut-happy troupe’s most resonant melody and most singularly progressive stretch, but neither will I take away from the nod of “God of Rain,” which follows, or the manner in which the apex shuffle of closer “Cycles of Time” unfurls itself from the song’s initial subdued verses. Heady vibe throughout the total 46 minutes, as one might expect, but The Fërtility Cült‘s third is less self-indulgent than it might superficially seem, and their varied arrangements never fail to service what really matters to them, which of course is the material itself rather than the exercise of playing it. Rich and graceful when it wants to be, A Forest of Kings hones an endearing landscape without getting lost in it.
Mostly-instrumentalist trio Cosmic Fall — based in Berlin and comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mathias, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel — formed in 2016 and worked quickly to turn around First Fall (discussed here), their first full-length of improv-based works. Kick out the Jams arrives with a fittingly quick turnaround and brings forth seven new pieces in its digital form, topping 93 minutes in its total space-bound push. More impressive than the quantity of the work — though I won’t take away from the sprawling appeal (or the delightful, influence-on-our-sleeve pun in the title) of the 21-minute “Earthfull” or 19-minute opener “Saturn Highway” — is the chemistry that seems to have immediately found root in Cosmic Fall‘s sound. They take a forward step in these tracks, to be sure, and there are more steps to be taken — a band like this, in the best case scenario, does not stop progressing, their material only comes to unfold more as a musical conversation between old friends; see Electric Moon — but as Kick out the Jams plays through its extended, immersive runtime, cuts like “Interstellar Junction” and “Stairway Jam” feel especially bold in how open they are in allowing the listener to hear that process happening. Songs are varyingly active — only “White Stone” (4:42) is under 11 minutes long — and allow for Mathias to lead the way into the spaciousness of “Purple Weed” while Daniel‘s toms propel “Cosmic Conclusion” at the album’s finish, but the core message behind Cosmic Fall less than a year into their tenure is one of ambition and the band’s deep motivation to develop the already palpable dynamic they have going. One can only look forward to hearing where their adventures take them and, indeed, where they take their audience.
With Earthen on ViciSolum Records, Finnish progressive death-doomers Oceanwake complete a trilogy that began on their 2013 debut Kingdom and had its second installment with 2015’s Sunless (review here). I’m not entirely sure what the overarching theme tying the releases together is — perhaps hearing the debut would help, but it’s not easily tracked down — but Earthen expounds on the blend of extremity, poise and emotional resonance the Luvia five-piece proffered their last time out, arriving as two massive tracks, opener “A Storm Sermon” (21:09) and closer “In Amidst the Silent Thrones” (24:04), both of which work in movements that shift between crushing, grueling doom and gorgeous, airy melodies. A depth of emotionalism isn’t necessarily anything new in the style — countrymen from Skepticism to Swallow the Sun have been morose for a long time — but what Oceanwake bring is a fluidity in their transitions and a sense of purpose to their songwriting beyond the usual miseries. Thus, like Sunless before it, Earthen emerges to bring significant character to familiar elements, drifting at times and explosive at others, but always under complete control, never wandering without a reason, and basking in low end that has to be heard to be believed. Earthen might fly under a lot of radars, but it shouldn’t be missed by those with an affinity for the extreme ends of doom. One hopes the now-completed trilogy project won’t be the sum total Oceanwake‘s output together.
Jenzeits may be a new incarnation, but the project stems from a familiar source. Relocated from North Carolina to San Francisco — also, apparently, to the cosmos itself — multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (Hour of 13, Set, Anu, The Sabbathian, etc.) offers up two massive synthesized soundscapes on Jenzeits Cosmic Universe, as both “Alpha” (25:00) and “Omega” (21:53) channel krautrock exploration and progressive indulgence. A due amount of the release is given to hypnotics, as one might expect — that is, it’s an easy one to put on and zone out — but Davis isn’t without some sense of motion either as he makes his way through “Alpha” and the rightfully more foreboding “Omega,” the latter delving into a movement of key runs backed by wind swirl calling to mind any number of horror and/or retro-horror soundtracks, and even minor shifts in the elements at work at any given moment become more pronounced in the grand context of the whole work. Davis usually has his hands in a number of outfits (and a number of genres) at any given time — an Hour of 13 resurgence is pending, for example — but Jenzeits‘ debut is engaging in its textures and feels like a journey just beginning.
More to come as we get The Obelisk Radio back up and running at full capacity. I’ve purchased a new hard drive toward that end, so we’ll have even more room to work with as well. Will update when there’s an update.
Till then, thanks again for reading and listening.
Hard not to be intrigued at the prospect of Hallatar‘s debut album or touched by the story behind the band’s formation. The Finnish trio got together at the behest of multi-instrumentalist Juha Raivio (also Swallow the Sun) to pay homage to his wife and Trees of Eternity bandmate, Aleah Starbridge, who passed away last year prior to the release of the band’s Hour of the Nightingale debut album on Svart Records. Hallatar brings Raivio together with Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, who’ll be performing Starbridge‘s lyrics, and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick, and their own first outing, titled No Stars upon the Bridge, is due out this Fall, also through Svart.
It’s a crushing story to say the least, and all three members of the new outfit offer comment below via the PR wire on how it all came together and how they hope to turn tragedy into something beautiful in Starbridge‘s honor.
Goes like this:
Members of Swallow The Sun, Amorphis, and HIM form HALLATAR – prepare SVART debut
Svart Records announces the signing of Hallatar. The first fruit of this union shall be the band’s debut album, No Stars Upon the Bridge, which is based on the lyrics and poems of Aleah Starbridge, and is tentatively slated for release this autumn.
Although a brand-new name, Hallatar features among its ranks Swallow the Sun and Trees of Eternity guitarist Juha Raivio, Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, and former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick. In fact, one could see Hallatar as an extension of Trees of Eternity, whose massively acclaimed debut for Svart, Hour of the Nightingale, served as the swansong of vocalist Aleah Starbridge.
Juha Raivio explains the genesis of Hallatar: “After the death of my beloved and my life partner Aleah Starbridge last April, I have been gathering writings, lyrics, and the poems of Aleah to keep them safe and close to my heart. About one month after the world came down on the blackest day of my life on April 18th, I knew I needed to pick up the guitar and try to create something or I would be truly destroyed. And something did arrive out of the darkness, and I wrote the music for the Hallatar album in a week’s time. I don’t have much memory of this week, not a memory of a single day of writing the music. But all I remember when going into this abyss of the writing process was a promise to myself that whatever music would come out, I would not touch or change anything of it afterwards. What mattered was that the music would stay forever as an absolute truth of those moments as they came out. I asked my good friends – and amazing musicians – Tomi Joutsen and Gas Lipstick if they would want to record this music with me, and both of them said yes without even hearing a note of it. I am forever grateful to both of them for sharing this road with me; even the weight of the process has not been easy to carry, or will be.”
Adds Gas Lipstick, “I am grateful and very honored to be asked to join this band. Juha is a dear friend of mine since many years ago, and when he told me about his vision for Hallatar and asked me to join, I said yes instantly – I just had to be part of this amazing journey. I had never heard a single note of the music before I gave my ‘yes’ because I didn’t need to. Juha has been one of my favorite songwriters already for years, and I knew that Hallatar will be a very deep, personal, and one-of-a-kind story which I wanted to help him to bring alive.”
Continues Tomi Joutsen: “I have known Juha from the year 2007, when we worked together for the first time. A couple years ago, I had the privilege to meet Juha’s life partner, Aleah Starbridge, who was such a beautiful person, inside and outside, and had an angelic voice out of this world. Aleah lent her voice on the latest Amorphis album, and we called her ‘the whispering ghost.’ When I heard about Aleah’s passing last spring, it came as a total shock and heartbreaking news out of the blue. When Juha asked me if I would want to be part of this album and carry Aleah’s flame with him, I didn’t have to think twice. When everything has been taken, all that is left is the music. The sorrow strips us naked and leave us humble – this is how it sounds like.”
Concludes Raivio, “What we recorded was a raw moment in time honoring the memory, lyrics, and poems of Aleah Starbridge with all its pain, beauty and darkness. There are no stars left upon the bridge to light the way anymore, but the music will always be a dim light, even in the darkest of the night.”
HALLATAR is: Tomi Joutsen – vocals Gas Lipstick – drums Juha Raivio – guitar, bass, keys
[Stream Void Cruiser’s Wayfarer in full by clicking play above. Album is out Feb. 27 on Argonauta Records.]
Though they seem to operate solely under a spaced-out thematic — members credited with “low frequency engine,” “battering apparatus,” and so on — the actual stylistic range with which Finland’s Void Cruiser operate feels much broader. Rather than simply live by the “what would Hawkwind do?” ethic, the Helsinki four-piece’s second album, Wayfarer (also their debut on Argonauta Records), follows 2015’s self-released Overstaying My Welcome and 2013’s Motherload EP and lives up to its name in the kind of meandering path it takes between aesthetics. Space is a factor for sure, but as they play between longer-form pieces like “I Didn’t Lie but I Know Now that I Should Have” and closer “Maailman Kallein Kaupunki” and the quicker shots of “As We Speak” and “All over Nowhere,” Void Cruiser actively defy pigeonholing any more specific than catchalls like “heavy” or “atmospheric,” and set their course for variety over redundancy.
With seven tracks and a 46-minute runtime, Wayfarer is substantial but not unmanageable, and the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Santeri “S-Salo” Salo, bassist/backing vocalist Lassi “T-Hug” Tähtinen, guitarist/backing vocalist Vili “V-Salo” Salo and drummer Teemu “T-Bag” Rantanen bring considerable breadth and personality to the material, commanding the turns they’re making rather than being led by them. Further, because even songs like “Madonnas and Whores” and “Seven Years Late,” which are relatively straightforward in their structure, have a marked tonal largesse and sense of patience, Wayfarer ties together its diverse sonic proposals with an overarching spaciousness of production that makes it all the more immersive to the listener. Surprises abound, but none of the moves Void Cruiser make feel out of place in a way they’re not intended to be. Some, however, are very definitely intended to be.
The prevailing first impression is one of patience as they begin with the rumble and slow roll of the introductory “A Day on Which No Man was Born,” starting with a low-toned drone and moving into an instrumental progression of slow nod that runs over five minutes, setting the listener up for some of Wayfarer‘s more heavy psychedelic aspects as they continue to play out in the subsequent “I Didn’t Lie but I Know Now that I Should Have.” Cumbersome in its name, the second track is likewise patient in how it unfurls, blending grunge — particularly in Santeri‘s vocals — with a languid drift as it makes a chorus of its title-line in its first half before shifting post-midpoint into more of a jam, vocals and all, as they build toward a shouted apex à la Facelift-era Alice in Chains, the key difference being the depth of mix surrounding Void Cruiser and the wash of wah in the solo that proceeds to lead them out of the song over the next couple minutes.
That turn to belting it out is the first clue of Void Cruiser‘s sonic range, and “As We Speak” adds to it immediately with a classic stoner feel run through the aforementioned effects-driven spaciousness. The vocals indulge a scream that speaks to some underlying metallic influence, but “As We Speak” feels more like a Lowrider single played at two-thirds speed than anything aggressive, even in that brief moment, and at 3:32, the shortest track on Wayfarer boosts the forward push that’s been subtly working all along with its quicker tempo ending giving way to “Madonnas and Whores” as the centerpiece. Despite ultra-prevalent low end, the beginning of the seven-minute “Madonnas and Whores” still holds to some rhythmic swing, but plays out moodier through its early verses and choruses, and the hook almost has a tinge of Southern metal as it stomps into a bridge that cuts suddenly just past the four-minute mark into a psych-jam of steady rumble and guitar noodling that comes back around in time for a full-boar solo finish into some hit-stops that bring the song to a close before an obscure sample presumably draws down an intended vinyl side A.
Perhaps the most unexpected transition on Wayfarer arrives in the form of “Seven Years Late,” which while consistent tonally with its surroundings takes on a goth-metal brooding that seems drawn directly from Type O Negative in its guitar work, in its play between slower and faster tempos, its low-voiced spoken part and the backing gang vocals that show up toward the end of its six-minute run. Void Cruiser telegraph the influence via the guitars early, so it’s not like they’re trying to get away with something, but while songs hint at metallurgy prior, the fuller dive of “Seven Years Late” kicks off side B with a genuine blindside punch that, as it gives way to the 4:38 thrust of the penultimate “All over Nowhere” barely has time to be as out of place as it feels like it should be and somehow isn’t. A rocker like “As We Speak” before it, “All over Nowhere” holds to the thickness of the album as a whole and has its context changed somewhat by “Seven Years Late,” but stands up to the task of re-centering Wayfarer in order that 10-minute finale “Maailman Kallein Kaupunki” can set resolutely to its charge of summarizing the record as a whole.
Unsurprisingly, the bassline helps a lot, especially early. Void Cruiser build through psych-grunge atmospheric rock, and top that low end with airy guitar work before solidifying around a forward progression, the lyrics in Finnish, that even seems to tip its hat toward the Type O Negative-ity of “Seven Years Late” as it rolls through its middle, eventually slowing to a nod that seems like it’s going to come apart entirely before eight minutes in, only to have a Kyuss-style desert riff take off at a sprint from the morass. The last push is one more surprise from an outing that’s offered plenty of them, and as they cut short and rumble their way out on a fade before hitting 10:00 flat, one almost can’t be certain there won’t be something else still to come.
Creating that feeling of unpredictability over the course of a single LP isn’t easy, and it’s commendable as a basic intention, but what makes Wayfarer stand out even more is how fluidly Void Cruiser navigate these aesthetic planes, pitting one element next to but not necessarily against the other in order to craft something more individual from them. This is a key factor in Wayfarer‘s success, but of course the occasional bit of rocking the hell out doesn’t hurt either.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Finnish blowout psych rockers Warp Transmission will release their Tamám Shud collection of studio tracks, live recordings, etc., via Creepy Crawl Records on April 7 ahead of a new album later this year, which will mark their full-length debut. The band, who hail from Tampere, get plenty weird in the tracks, which you can hear below from their original release in 2015, and one doubts a remaster job ahead of this CD/LP pressing will have changed that any. You know the drill to some extent, but at the same time there’s an edge to the vibe in what they’re doing that begs further consideration. Obviously Creepy Crawl thought so as well, since they picked it up and all.
The PR wire had this to say about it:
Announcing WARP TRANSMISSION ‘Tamám Shud’ reissue
CREEPY CRAWL RECORDS REISSUE FINNISH SIKE-NOISEROCK MASTERPIECE…
Straight out of Tampere Rock City – these Finnish fiends are the bastard children of Blue Cheer and Monster Magnet (McBain era natch!) – but do not panic, this is no retro show, they are not throwbacks or wimpy psych wannabe shoegazers – this record ROCKS and it ROCKS HARD!
Originally released on cassette, Creepy Crawl was totally blown away by it and we knew this had to come out on LP/CD – Tamam Shud is part live rehearsal recordings and the rest created at their own Kemian Laboratorio – 8 face melting freakouts with layers of effect laden guitars, spaced out organ and synth and thunderous bass and drums. Remastered for CD/LP reissue and cut loud…. This is unrelenting psyche-rock at its finest… 500 LP / 1000 CD… setting up for a full length later in 2017.
Warp Transmission is a freak accident, the weirdo process ultra, a travel void of reason. It’s spaced out, stoner,psychedelic, wastoid, heavy ‘n’ heady ROCK.
It’s about riding blind the primal urge, living the archetype, and always rocking out with an excess of noise, burning some bridges and crossing a couple abysses along the way.
Tracklisting: 01. Black Dots 02. Hash Time I 03. Cast into the Process 04. Hash Time II 05. Confusion 06. Great Oceans in the Sky 07. Hash Time III 08. Archetype: Brainfry 09. Outro
Warp Transmission: Ville – guitars Jere – guitars Pekka – bass Jussi – bass Jesse – drums Lede – synth/FX Kari – voice, organ
Posted in Radio on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
My going motto for this site, which basically I repeat to myself like a mantra, is to do as much as I can when I can. Obviously that fluctuates, and I think that’s a good thing on many levels, but I’ve had more time recently to pay due attention to the goings on with The Obelisk Radio and I’m thankful for that. This is the second round of adds for this month, and in addition to the offerings highlighted below, another 30-plus releases have gone up to the server as of today, including some choice bootlegs from the likes of Lowrider, Brant Bjork, Vista Chino, Greenleaf, Acid King, Neurosis and Kyuss. I encourage you to check out the full list of adds here. It kicks a formidable amount of ass.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 20, 2017:
Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy
This 2015 reissue on Agitated Records of Evil Acidhead‘s In the Name of all that is Unholy becomes particularly relevant since 2017 marks 30 years since its original release. Offered as a cassette in 1987 by guitarist John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy), it tops an hour and 17 minutes and crosses the first of its two LPs before it’s even finished with its four-part opener, and only then digs into the 23-minute “I Control the Moon.” A challenging listen front to back even three decades later, it holds to an experimentalist core of guitar effects, swirl, loops — which are near-maddening on side B’s “Part III: Possession” — and malevolent, droning abrasion. What’s stunning about it is if you said this was something McBain recorded a few months ago, there would be no choice but to call it forward-thinking. Imagine a record that 30 years later still offers a legitimate sense of being ahead of the day. Not that it never happens, but it’s certainly rare, and In the Name of all that is Unholy seems to willfully sidestep what we think of as reality in favor of its apparently timeless hellscapes. It’s far, far away from pleasant, but it sure as hell is impressive.
Fort Worth trio Gypsy Sun Revival make their debut with this 2016 self-titled full-length and earn immediate notoriety for their blend of heavy psychedelic and straightforward rocker impulses as well as the fact that the vinyl version of the album sees release through ultra-respected purveyor Nasoni Records. One might recall the last time the Berlin-based label picked up a Texan band, it was Wo Fat, so it’s no minor endorsement of Gypsy Sun Revival‘s potential, and the three-piece of vocalist/bassist/organist Lee Ryan, guitarist/thereminist Will Weise and drummer Ben Harwood live up to it across the 46-minute seven-tracker, songs like “Cosmic Plains” finding a middle ground between sleek ’70s groove and modern thickness, setting up longer post-Zeppelin jams to come like “Idle Tides,” which, though fluid, rely less on effects wash to get their improvisational point across than the raw dynamic between the band itself. As a debut, Gypsy Sun Revival impresses for that, but even more for the level of immersion it enacts the further along it goes, so that when they get to languid instrumental closer “Radiance,” the band’s approach seems to be in full bloom when in fact they may only be beginning their forward creative journey.
Albinö Rhino, Upholder Live at Ääniwalli, Helsinki 17.12.2016
I’m pretty sure all those umlauts are going to crash the radio stream every single time this gets played, but a 41-minute digital live version — offered as a name-your-price download, no less — of Albinö Rhino‘s heavy psych epic “Upholder” recorded this past December in their native Helsinki is too good to pass up. The Finnish trio issued the studio edition of the three-so-far-part piece late in 2016 under the simple title Upholder (review here), and Upholder Live at Ääniwalli, Helsinki 17.12.2016 comprises a 41-minute single-track rendering of the first two parts brought together with onstage energy and a fitting showcase of the song’s longform jamming path. Led by Kimmo Tyni‘s guitar work — no less recalling early Natas via Sungrazer and Sleep here than in the studio recording — and gruff vocals, the live incarnation also benefits from the deep patience in Ville Harju‘s bass and Viljami Väre‘s drumming, as heard under Tyni‘s moog solo circa 14 minutes in. It’s soon for a revisit of Upholder itself, but as well as getting additional mileage out of the piece, Albinö Rhino bring a different flavor to the live execution of it to this digital-only outing, and if it catches more ears as a 41-minute single song as opposed to being broken up over two sides, there’s no way that’s going to hurt them. Either way you get it, its soul, heft and molten vibe resonate.
Not to be understated is the sense of poise that pervades Two Isles, the debut full-length from Encinitas, California, psychedelic progressives Monarch. Delivered via Causa Sui‘s imprint El Paraiso Records — the gorgeous art treatment is consistent with their hallmark style — and produced by Brian Ellis (Astra, Psicomagia, etc.), it locks into classically winding turns or melodic flourish with equal ease on side A pieces like the opening title-track and “Assent,” proffering scope but not necessarily pretense. Call it prog in the new West Coast tradition if you must, “Dancers of the Sun” and the more insistent staccato of “Sedna’s Fervor” are dead on either way, and the five-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dominic Denholm, guitarists Nate Burns and Thomas Dibenedetto (see also Joy and Sacri Monti), bassist Matt Weiss and drummer Andrew Ware save their finest showcase for the just-under-10-minute finale “Shady Maiden,” summarizing their liquefied proceedings in more than able fashion, reaching ahead of themselves as the style warrants, and once more proving what might be hypnotic were it not such an active, exciting listen.
Echoes from Forgotten Hearts is the latest EP from Montréal-based solo artist Alexandre Julien, who operates under the banner of Vision Éternel, and it comprises seven brief individual tracks numbered in French as “Pièce No. Un,” “Pièce No. Deux,” etc., of wistful guitar lines and serene dronescapes. The balance that a “Pièce No. Deux” is able to strike by sounding so broad and wide open and yet only being 1:47 is striking, and it makes the release flow together all the more as a work on a single emotional thematic, and while it all only winds up being 14 minutes in total, Julien is able to bring that thematic to life in that time with depth and grace, so that when the relative sprawl of the 3:45 closer “Pièce No. Sept,” takes hold, one only wishes it would go on further. Note this is one of several Vision Éternel offerings joining the playlist this week, and Julien has a boxed set in progress collecting a number of his outings to be released sometime later this year, including, I believe, this one, which originally came out in 2015. Hopefully it’s not long before he follows it with new material.