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.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Next week, Finnish spacedudes Deep Space Destructors launch a quick tour they’re calling “Spring Break from Space,” and they’ll be bringing a limited-edition cassette EP — 30 copies only — with them to mark the occasion. Also called Spring Break from Space, the EP contains two rehearsal-room jams recorded live and then fleshed out with synth, vocals and percussion to extra spacey effect. Both cuts, “Journey to the Space Mountain” and “Where Space Ends Time” — yes, they’re working on a theme, and yes, that theme is “space” — offer marked swirl as a result, bassist/vocalist Jani Pitkänen, guitarist/backing vocalist Petri Lassila and drummer Markus Pitkänen pushing classically Hawkwindian jams past the thermosphere and into zero-grav floatation.
I’d say that’s nothing new for the Oulu three-piece, whose three full-lengths to date — 2012’s I (review here), 2013’s II (review here) and 2014’s III (review here) — have likewise thrust beyond the limits of convention, but where a song like the 15-minute “An Ode to Indifferent Universe” from III was certainly jam-based, it was more structured than either “Journey to the Space Mountain” or “Where Space Ends Time,” clearer and less awash in effects. “Journey to the Space Mountain” makes a hook of its title line, but still blasts pretty far out, a foundational bassline and drum progression setting a bed for a guitar-led freakout that persists over a long midsection jam before the track resumes its charted course with a stop and layered recitation of a couple lines about — wait for it — space.
It’s fun to kid around that a band with space in their name would release an EP with space both in its title and in the titles of each of its two tracks, but the jams hold up. “Where Space Ends Time” starts with a slower march, minimal in percussion but picking up speed as it approaches the end of its first minute. When the bass kicks in, Deep Space Destructors are underway. Various washes of effects make their way in and out of the jam’s early going, sampled, spoken vocals appear and disappear with a pervasive experimental feel that builds as the track progresses, hypnotic and saturated. There are vocals later, echoing in the second half over a sort of ambient melody given tension by that same bassline, and while it’s easy to forget, the band are actually leading the song somewhere. An apex of “Where Space Ends Time” is signaled by crashing drums, but it’s short, and the track cuts out soon, ending cold as though you’ve just been pushed out the airlock.
There are five shows on Deep Space Destructors‘ upcoming tour, and they’re only making 30 copies of the Spring Break from Space tape, so I’m not sure how available it will wind up being to the worldwide cosmos-faring public. All the more reason I’m glad to be able to stream it in full today. You’ll find the tracks on the player below, followed by tour info and some words about the making of the new release.
Psychedelic space rockers Deep Space Destructors made a limited cassette release of 30 copies for the upcoming Spring Break From Space 2015 tour.
With the new material DSD dives towards innerspace, shamanistic rhythms and to the mystic realms of consciousness. What is the space mountain and will you discover it?
The cassette includes two songs recorded live at Rehearsal Vortex, with vocals, percussions and analog synths added afterwards. The cassette contains:
Space (A-side): 01. Journey To The Space Mountain (8:16) Void (B-side): 02: Where Space Ends Time Begins (11:33)
The tour starts on April 1st from Oulu which is also the release date for the cassette. The songs will also be available for pay what you want digital download through bandcamp: http://deepspacedestructors.bandcamp.com/
Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Once again it’s been a couple weeks since I was last able to do a round of radio adds. But I have a good excuse! I was… uh… reviewing stuff? Well, that’s what I was doing, anyway. Anyhow, I’m way backed up on stuff to join the server, so for at least the next couple weeks it seems reasonable to expect regular adds while I get caught up. By then I’m sure I’ll be behind again, because somehow that’s how it works. Anyway, point is that as usual, a lot more was added to the server this afternoon than appears here, so make sure you check the Playlist and Updates page for the full list. Most of it is pretty new as well, so you might stumble on something you didn’t know was out. Could happen. Alright, let’s do this.
The Obelisk Radio adds for March 20, 2015:
XII Boar, Pitworthy
Before “Sharpshooter,” the opening track of their debut full-length, Pitworthy, actually starts, Hampshire, UK, trio XII Boar are introduced by a ring announcer in full arena-echo style. Somebody is about to get their ass kicked. That mentality tells you a lot about where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hardrocks, bassist/vocalist Adam “Baddog” Thomas and drummer David Wilbraham are coming from on the 10-track outing, rife with heavy, Southern-style boogie presented with weighted burl whether it’s a slower groove like “Crushing the P” or a thrasher like “Chicken Hawk.” Side A caps with the title-track, a seven-minute Southern metal highlight, but the real party is at the end of the record’s second half, when the 11-minute “Quint” takes hold in a raucous fury of rhythmic thrust, seafaring tales and off-the-wall soloing. It is a riotous debut after a few promising EPs, and if nothing else, XII Boar make it clear that if anyone’s going to get their ass kicked, it won’t be the band. Their dudely growls and whisky this-or-that might be too much for some, but there’s no denying these guys sound like they’re having a blast, and that energy proves infectious throughout their first album. XII Boar on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Deadpeach, Old Fuzz Generation
Underrated Italian fuzz rockers Deadpeach initially released the debut EP, Old Fuzz Generation, in 2004 on what was apparently severely limited vinyl. Then a three-song 7″, Old Fuzz Generation now sees a digital reissue as a four-track release with the three-minute “Spain ’87” added on to the end. All told, it’s still under 10 minutes long with all four cuts taken together, but while brief, there’s enough fuzzy rush to hearken back to a time when European heavy rock was less concerned with either psychedelic freeform jamming or sounding like it’s 1972, and that the thickened-out, sped-up punk of “Americano” (1:50) needed no frills to get its point across, tapping influences from Nebula, Fu Manchu and Kyuss even while quoting Bob Marley in the lyrics and expressing what was a pervasive anti-American sentiment throughout Europe following the US invasion of Iraq. Good times. Not really, but good fuzz, and twice as interesting when one considers how European heavy was on the verge of a multi-faceted explosion 11 years ago and Deadpeach were tapping into a similar classic heavy ethic as the likes of Demon Cleaner, earlier Dozer and their countrymen in OJM. A quick but satisfying stoner burst. Deadpeach on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Suzukiton, Suzukiton II
Making their home in the fertile heavy ground of Richmond, Virginia, the instrumental four-piece Suzukiton made their debut a decade ago on Crucial Blast with Service Repair Handbook, a collection of distinctly Southern but still varied rockers that found a cult following at the time. Kind of a surprise to find that 10 years later, the four-piece of guitarists Todd Naumann and David Boyd (Twisted Tower Dire), bassist William Rose and drummer Bryan Cox (ex-Axehandle and Alabama Thunderpussy) would return with the self-released Suzukiton II, but the intervening time has done little to dull their potency, shredding leads cutting through tight rhythms in tones bordering between heavy rock and metal, a chugger like “Death of a Mule” no more out of place than a prog-metal stomper like “Ronin.” Closer “Todd II” would seem a direct sequel to “Todd Song” from the first album, but its eight-minute course feels more than duly expanded from the prior release. Thoughtful in its progressions and well-plotted within its individual pieces, Suzukiton II is nothing if not a welcome return, and if it’s the band’s position to blindside new listeners, that suits the material well. Suzukiton on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Torpor, From Nothing Comes Everything
Immediate points to UK atmospheric sludgers Torpor (also stylized in all-caps) for opening their Head of Crom and Black Bow Records debut LP, From Nothing Comes Everything, with “From this Time,” the longest song on the album. Follow-up points for the actual weight of the damn thing. Dense, post-metallic claustrophobia is undercut by trades between spoken or otherwise clearheaded shouts and vicious screams, the foursome of standalone vocalist Nats Spada, guitarist/vocalist Jon Taylor, bassist Lauren Mason and drummer Simon Mason successfully avoiding stylistic cliche throughout the six-track release while executing lethal builds and thunder-toned push. “Surrender to the Light” is as effective for its melody as its chug, the obscure interlude “The Wake” rumbles and growls ferociously, and “As Waves Crash” demonstrates a powerful blend of post-hardcore and doom, from which “Abandon” departs only momentarily, delving into a minimalist midsection before rounding out with a maddening payoff. Nine-minute closer “Everything We Left Behind” might as well be made of skull fragments and burst eardrums, its heft giving way gradually to deconstructed ambience and a finale of abrasive noise. Torpor‘s first is brutal, fierce and terrifying most of all for how solidified and assured the band sounds in their aesthetic — how at home they are in the churning chaos they’ve made. Torpor on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, at Head of Crom, Black Bow Records.
If the art wasn’t clue enough, Monsternaut‘s Monsternaut EP is a stoner rock record. Its motor revs in opener “Dog Town” and doesn’t let up until it hits the slowdown in closer “Black Horizon,” which wraps the Kerava, Finland, trio’s 18-minute debut outing with a fitting show of swing, choice basslines and nod-worthy fuckall. There’s plenty about the five tracks that will prove familiar to listeners who may have seen a record with an El Camino (admittedly, a gorgeous one) on the cover before, but there’s a next-generation freshness in Monsternaut‘s barebones, unabashed heavy rock approach, and cuts like “Back for More” and “Mountain Doom” prove deceptively catchy while also tapping tonal satisfaction in the guitar, bass and drums — Jani Kuusela‘s snare and kick landing no less heavy than Tuomas Heiskanen‘s riffs or Perttu Härkönen‘s low end — and the thud of “Caravan” and the straightforward, unpretentious vibe of all the tracks suits a presentation of genre that offers an edge of individuality while immediately doing more than just aping the band’s stylistic forebear(d)s. In heft, mood and songwriting, it’s a more than solid showcase of a progression underway. Monsternaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
As previously noted, this is just a fraction of the stuff that joined the server today — one-third, if you want to be more specific about that fraction. To check out everything else or to see what’s been played today and for probably way further back than you’re interested in knowing, check out the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page. Hope you find something good from it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
After an initial EP and a follow-up digital single and split, Finnish heavy rock four-piece Lowburn have inked a deal to make their full-length debut through Argonauta Records. No exact release date for the album yet, but so far as I can glean from perusing their Thee Facebooks page, the record is done and ready to roll, so I can’t imagine it’ll be all that long, though Argonauta certainly likes to keep busy. Maybe “later this year” works? Anyway, sooner or later. Lowburn‘s latest outing was their 2014 split with countrymen rockers Church of Void that you can hear below.
But first, to the PR wire:
ARGONAUTA Records signs Finnish Stoner Rockers LOWBURN!
A new stunning name is now part of the Argonauta family! Hailing from Finland, LOWBURN are an impressive band able to blend the pure stoner rock frenzy to the doomier as well as more psychedelic fields. Formed by BATTLELORE members Tomi Mykkänen and Henkka Vahvanen, LOWBURN born as a band since the very first jams, recruiting Miika Kokkola and Tommi Havo (replaced by Tommi Lintunen in the beginning of 2015). After a couple of EPs, the guys are now giving the final touches to their debut full length, highly anticipated as a massive energy of fuzzy groove!
“Showing the appreciation and gratidude to such bands as Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, ZZ Top, Kyuss, Acid King, Sleep, Monster Magnet and Cathedral, these four guys are delivering the Rock as it’s supposed to be!”
After a short hiatus from music Tomi Mykkänen and Henkka Vahvanen from Battlelore started jamming again together. Soon it was decided that they needed to form a band for the jams. Miika Kokkola (founding member and original bass player from Battlelore) was contacted and asked if he wants to jam with the guys. He did. They played and jammed a few times and then it was decided that second guitarist would not hurt. Miika said that he had already talked with Tommi Havo (another original Battlelore member) about the project and that he was very interested. So, enter Tommi and on the first rehearsal together the first real song was made. On the second rehearsal the second song was made and then it was realized that the band had born.
In January 2013 “Soaring High EP” was released as a limited CD-release. The EP showcases quite well the versatility and the musicianship of the band. It shows their sides from the pure stoner rock frenzy to the more doomier fields. The EP sold out in couple of weeks after the release. The feedback and the buzz has been awesome-lly great and the band is very humbled about it. The EP is digitally available at the Bandcamp-site.
The song “All Life Long” was released as a video and digi-single late summer 2013.
A split-7″ with fellow band CHURCH OF VOID was released in May 2014. LOWBURN song on the split is called “Dope Is a Pope”.