Thermate Sign to Argonauta Records; Debut Album in Progress

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Finnish heavy rockers Thermate have two EPs under their collective belt and have announced that their yet-untitled debut album will be delivered via Italian imprint Argonauta Records. They don’t exactly give a timeline, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that it would arrive sometime before the end of this year, assuming, you know, it’s written. Which, come to think of it, is kind of a rash assumption to make. So okay, let me revise and say I don’t know crap about the status of Thermate‘s debut album other than what it says below, which is that they are “currently working on” it. Hopefully when it lands it will do so with less cartoon T&A than their last EP.

Because, really, cartoon T&A. Come on.

But let me not spoil the happy occasion with my East Coast liberal, educated white middle class bourgeois sensibilities. Cheers to Thermate and Argonauta, who if I’m not mistaken are on track to pick up every not-yet-affiliated band on the European continent.

They announced this alliance thusly:

thermate

THERMATE signed to ARGONAUTA RECORDS

ARGONAUTA Records is excited to announce they inked a deal with THERMATE from Finland!

THERMATE is a fuzz rock band conceived in Kuopio during 2012. Comprised of singer Arthur Thure, guitarists Mikko Väätäinen and Juuso Honkanen, bassist Jere Tirkkonen, and drummer Kimmo Partanen, the band conjures the sounds of 70’s heavy metal/rock and the 90’s stoner rock.

The debut four-song EP ‘Off to Hades’ was released in 2016. The following year saw the release of the sophomore EP ‘Black Desert Highway’ bringing the group to widespread public attention. Both EP’s are available here: https://thermate.bandcamp.com

Today THERMATE secured a deal with Italian Argonauta Records and they are currently working on their debut album.

The band says: “THERMATE is thrilled to join forces with the renowned Argonauta Records. Though 2017 was a great year for us, now with the support from Argonauta we are ready to go full throttle!”.

Arthur Thure – vocals
Miko Väätäinen – guitar, hammond
Juuso Honkanen – guitar, percussion
Jere Tirkkonen – bass, hammond
Kimmo Partanen – drums, percussion

www.facebook.com/Thermate
https://www.instagram.com/thermateband/
https://thermate.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Thermate, Black Desert Highway (2017)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Malady, Toinen Toista

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

malady Toinen Toista

[Click play above to stream Malady’s Toinen Toista in its entirety. Album is out this month on Svart Records.]

As with many creative works of substance, be they novels, films, paintings or records, Malady‘s Toinen Toista, in its very beginning moments, takes the time to teach its audience how to engage with it. It would seem to be no coincidence whatsoever that the Helsinki-based classic progressive rockers, who made their self-titled debut (review here) via Svart Records in 2015 and issue the follow-up through the same label, open Toinen Toista with its title-track. At just under seven minutes long (the longest on side A), it allows the Finnish five-piece’s returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Babak Issabeigloo, guitarist Tony Björkman, bassist Jonni Tanskanen, keyboardist/organist Ville Rohiola and drummer Juuso Jylhänlehto to flesh out the sweet-toned naturalism that made their first record such a joy, while broadening the parameters of sound.

The principal instruction is one of patience. Like much of what follows, “Toinen Toista” gives those who would take it on a chance to become acclimated to the sonic environment surrounding. It’s not until after four minutes in that the first vocals — in Finnish, if it wasn’t clear from the titles — kick in, and when they do,, Issabeigloo greets the fluidity of Mellotron, organ and guitar, the gentle wash of cymbals, with a likewise subdued verse. It comes and goes and a sense of drift remains despite the clearly directed progression and subtle instrumental build, lush and cascading from the speaker as it is. But the important thing to note is the lack of rush on Malady‘s part in getting to that verse. They’re perfectly content to let the instrumental aspects establish themselves first, and so they do.

A just about seamless transition brings on second cut “Laulu Sisaruksille,” which is only about a minute and a half long but in that time continues to expand the context of the album, bringing in strings alongside the keys in order to return the listener to the headspace where the band wants them to be. Toinen Toista is rife with sonic details that prove fodder for repeat listens, whether it’s the flute flourish early in subsequent centerpiece “Tiedon Kehtolaulu” or the funky bassline that underscores that track as a whole, or the acoustic strum that was there the whole time but does’t emerge and come to the fore until about the last minute of the 3:45 run.

malady

There’s very subtly a lot happening in the centerpiece, between the guitar and bass and keys and vocals, but the drums provide a solid and welcoming foundation for all manner of exploration, and the rest of the band seems only too happy to take advantage. The track swirls upward to a melodic wash through which cuts flute and the aforementioned acoustic guitar, and the early King Crimson vibe that will resurface in closer “Nurja Puoli” is given due foreshadow. Of course before we get there, “Etsijän Elinehto” offers a bookend to “Toinen Toista” at the outset, gracefully weaving through early verses on its way to a sweeping guitar-led crescendo to finish side A on a crash and long fade. And speaking of worldmaking (as we were earlier; keep up), no place is that more evident than on album closer “Nurja Puoli,” which seems over the course of its 23 minutes to implement the lessons Malady taught so much earlier on the opening title cut.

Before “Nurja Puoli” gets to its post-midpoint round of tense, insistent thuds — and even, I suppose, after — the song’s arrangement unfolds with a graceful linearity. Perhaps Malady have given up a bit of the pastoralism in their sound in favor of this wider range, but only a bit, and though the closer gets momentarily dire, what emerges from that stretch is a warm, welcoming and unpretentious stretch of versemaking that proves deceptively complex in the interweaving of guitar, bass and keys, but is nonetheless pushed forward by Jylhänlehto‘s drums until a temporary moment of stillness around the 18-minute mark. It doesn’t last, of course, and Malady shift into giving Toinen Toista the end-credits soundtrack it deserves, layers of vocals reciting final lines over a suitable melodic wash serving as a peak to the 20-plus-minute journey undertaken, and indeed to the album as a whole, which “Nurja Puoli” almost cannot help but summarize.

There is plenty about Malady‘s approach that will be familiar to those who’ve dug into classic-minded prog before, particularly of the Scandinavian variety, but as they move from the first album to this one, their drive toward an individualized approach to the established tenets of the sound is all the more apparent, and as they move forward, they only do more and more to make it their own. Toinen Toista, which according to a major internet company’s translation matrix equates to “one another” in English, is a crucial step in their hitting that mark, and while they’re well on their way in these tracks — especially “Nurja Puoli,” which is essentially a short album unto itself — the sense is that they’ll only continue to grow and flourish as they move forward, and so remain truly progressive on a creative level.

Malady on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

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Review & Full Album Stream: Sammal, Suuliekki

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sammal suuliekki

[Click play above to stream Sammal’s Suuliekki in full. Album is out now on Svart Records.]

If you’re looking for something to tie together the nine different pieces that make up Sammal‘s Suuliekki, you might find the answer somewhere in the guitar tone, or in the vocals, or in the overarching krautrock-reborn sensibility of the Turku, Finland, five-piece’s third full-length. But on the other hand, if you’re looking for something to tie Suuliekki together, you’re kind of doing it wrong. That’s not to say the album, which is released by the venerable tastes of Svart Records, is incoherent. It’s just intended to come at you from different sides.

The classic-style boogie of “Pinnalle Kaltevalle” and “Vitutuksen Valtameri,” is supposed to sound odd leading into the folk-tinged-but-still-handclap-and-synth-laden prog of “Maailman Surullisiin Suomalainen,” and from the moment the “Intro” eases the way into the theatrical title-track — with jabbing piano notes and an eventual turn to a verse and a chorus that reminds of lounge-pop before a danceable section of definitively Suomi progressive rock takes hold akin to something one might expect from Death Hawks or the bizarro elephant in the room when it comes to all things masterful and strange in Finnish undergroundism: CircleSammal make clear their intentions toward variety and a full-album flow that relies not on the songs all sounding the same, but on the listener engaging with an open mind in order to fully appreciate what’s happening across the heady but manageable 43-minute span.

It’s not always easy to follow — I suspect my own ignorance of the beautiful Finnish language is in no small measure to blame for that — but that would only seem to add to the complexity underscoring Suuliekkias a whole. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be a conversation between creator and listener, subject and object.

Organ, keyboards and other synthly goings on make songs like “Ylistys ja Kumarrus” that much richer, as the lineup of Jura, Juhani, Janu, Tuomas and Lasse fleetly bounce their way from one path to another throughout the nine tracks, finding a foothold in a given part and sticking to it only long enough to use it to brace the jump to the next one — centerpiece “Pinnalle Kaltevalle” does this particularly well, and if you can’t get behind that intertwining of organ and guitar in the second half, you should probably just give up and go about the rest of your day. Percussive groove, inventive rhythms and melodies, and a strong sense of striving toward individualism are all welcome aspects of Suuliekki early on.

sammal

The title-cut and the subsequent “Lukitut Päivät, Kiitävät Yöt” have a drama behind them, the former in its chorus and the latter in its linear forward build of tempo from subdued brooder to layered howls of lead guitar (of course it ends quiet post-crescendo), and the aforementioned “Ylistys ja Kumarrus,” which at 3:24 is the shortest inclusion here apart from the “Intro” at the outset, seems to amass significant forward momentum even as it dances around an instrumental hook which, as noted, is driven by the keys as much as the guitar. That in itself is a tie to rock classicism — think Deep Purple‘s weirdo Finnish cousins, if for no other reason than it’s a fun image — but while Sammal put that spirit to work even more across the outing’s second half, I wouldn’t necessarily tag them as being loyalists to anything other than their own individual songwriting impulses, which very much sound like the fruit of a multiple-parties-involved craft process. Not that one person couldn’t come up with the many twists and turns of the seven-minute “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen,” just that sonic personalities for entire groups are rarely so varied with a single creative force at their root. Suuliekki is dense enough as a listening experience front to back to justify the impression of coming from multiple minds.

That’s not, however, to say it’s completely inaccessible. It’s not. Even “Suuliekki” has a chorus and a rhythmic drive, and when Sammal get through the bass-and-percussion/key-and-guitar/is-that-a-saxophone? vibe of “Pinnalle Kaltevalle,” the subsequent “Vitutuksen Valtameri” signals more straightforward intentions in its fuzzy guitar tone and relative calm compared to much of what’s come before it. Of course, it picks up as it moves through the chorus, but the spirit of the piece is more latter-day Siena Root than Brainticket, and Sammal make the other no less their own than the one, continuing into the stretch of “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen” to affect vast creative sensibility and to bring the willing parties of their audience with them on this complicated but deeply satisfying journey.

One might consider the midsection of “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen” an apex for the album as a whole, but with “Herran Pelko” and “Samettimetsä” still to go there’s plenty of ground still to cover and far more than should be thought of simply as an epilogue or an afterthought. The opening keyboards and crashes of “Herran Pelko” do give it a kind of things-are-wrapping-up feel, but while the vocals arrive late in the mostly-instrumental victory lap, the actual closer, “Samettimetsä,” operates in a more meditative mood. A jazz-fusion shuffle emerges near the halfway mark as the verse starts, but the vibe is cool with a kind of late ’70s smoothness of tone and presentation that somehow is just as appropriate as anything else could be to close out the record.

I guess that’s the upside of making a long-player where you go anywhere and everywhere you want: by the time you get to the finish, you’ve already established a wide enough breadth to allow for just about anything. So it is with Suuliekki, which succeeds not just because it’s willfully odd in its affect or because it offers this or that progressive nuance, but also because it does these things while serving not a display of technical prowess, but instead, the songwriting. Wherever Sammal go throughout this third offering, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that they’re creating songs and not just putting parts together like a science experiment to see what happens. That crucial difference further allows Suuliekki to make the many leaps it does, because no matter where they’re headed, the listener can trust they’re being guided by capable hands.

Sammal on Thee Facebooks

Sammal on Bandcamp

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

Svart Records website

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Black Royal Stream Debut Album Lightbringer in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black_Royal Peero_Lakanen

Finnish sludge extremists Black Royal release their debut full-length, Lightbringer, on March 9 via Suicide Records. There are a couple different ways one might approach the Tampere four-piece’s rather formidable 10-track/44-minute salvo. It’s either a bludgeoning assault on the auditory senses, laced with underlying heft of groove and tone, but filled with a brutality that reveals itself as a core element whether a given song is fast or slow, rolling or driving, riff-based like “Salvation” or something more along the lines of the half-speed grindcore of opener “Cryo-Volanic” and the punkish “Denial.” Or, it’s an anti-religious treatise that incorporates elements of science fiction, Satanic philosophy, narrative craft and pointed a anti-Christianity doctrine. The truth of Lightbringer, however, is that it’s both.

Oh, to be sure it’s extreme. The lineup of vocalist Riku, bassist/backing vocalist Pete, guitarist/backing vocalist Toni and drummer Jukka meld sludge, hardcore punk, death metal, and their thematic foundation to tell the story of a world losing its religion and ultimately coming out better for that painful process. The lyric sheet comes with footnotes, if that tells you anything, and for songs like “Self-Worship,” which is one of several on Lightbringer to bask in the hypocrisy of faith, they’re actually pretty helpful in tying together the point of view from which the album is working, which is no less cohesive, fortunately, than the band’s sound itself, which, while varied, is never entirely unhinged, as the use of samples in “Pentagram Doctrine” or the quiet stretches of acoustic guitar (courtesy of Pete) and atmospherics in “Dying Star” showcase. In the title-track itself, which also opens side B, the chorus seems to offer a summary of the arc of the story itself: “The Bringer of Light has returned to settle the score/And fight for the lost strength within us all/Man had a chance to unite the world/But their god failed them all.”

Anti-religious perspective within extreme music of nearly all stripes is hardly anything new, but Black Royal are distinguished by just how much they’re willing to make it the core of their debut album’s message. As arrangements gradually flesh out across side B’s “Lightbringer,” keyboard-laced highlight “The Chosen” — the title referring to those whose duty it is to guide the world into this dogma-free next phase of its evolution — “Dying Star” and the slow-unfolding “New World Order” before “Ou[t]roboros” leads the way to the finish with a serenity percussion and far back keys and acoustic guitar, Lightbringer remains vibrant and vehement for the duration. The earlier raw punishment of “Cryo-Volcanic,” “Self-Worship,” “Salvation” and even “Denial” is more straightforward by comparison, with “Pentagram Doctrine” closing side A and foreshadowing some of the expansion to follow, but Lightbringer stays united across its span in its growls and screams no less than in its thematic foundation and aggressive attitude.

The final footnote? Well, it isn’t actually spoken on the song, but on the lyric sheet under “Ou[t]roboros” it quotes Aleister Crowley saying, “These are fools that men adore; both their Gods and their men are fools.” Fair enough. It’s worth noting though that for all the attention paid to messaging across Lightbringer, there’s nothing lacking for songwriting, arrangement, production or execution. The bass tone and chorus of “Lightbringer” both make the titular cut a standout, and in the spirit of many fine growlers before him, Riku seems to have an unyielding supply of vitriol from which to work. While definitely of a style, “The Chosen” hints at progressive elements that could very well come into play more on subsequent releases, and even the most familiar aspects of the album in general are brought to bear with a drive toward individualized, crisp presentation. That would seem to make the thesis all the more pointed, but whether or not a given listener chooses to engage with Black Royal on that level or simply to take it on as a dense slab of aural castigation with a horrid album cover is entirely up to them. In either case, Lightbringer delivers a trouncing worthy of its critique.

I have the pleasure today of premiering Lightbringer for your streaming pleasure. Please find it below, followed by more info from the PR wire, and enjoy:

Hailing from Tampere, Finland, BLACK ROYAL was forged in 2013. The quartet’s music combines modern sludge with ’90s death metal, classic seventies influences, epic choruses and unconventional arrangements, resulting in a distinctly alluring sound often and accurately described as “death blues.” Inspired by beer and occult teachings, their music is laced with distortion and growls proclaiming various themes from free thought to the perils of organized religion.

Following two critically-lauded EPs — The Summoning Pt.1 and Pt.2, released in 2015 and 2016 respectively — the band was signed by Swedish-Finnish label Suicide Records and unleashed the Dying Star seven-inch/digital single, serving as the first taste of BLACK ROYAL’s imminent Lightbringer debut, coming at you this Spring.

BLACK ROYAL:
Jukka – drums, percussion
Pete – bass, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Riku – vocals
Toni – guitars, backing vocals

Black Royal website

Black Royal on Thee Facebooks

Black Royal on Instagram

Suicide Records website

Suicide Records on Thee Facebooks

Suicide Records on Bandcamp

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Pharaoh Overlord Announce Zero LP Due April 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

pharaoh overlord

As the old saying goes: There’s weird and then there’s Pharaoh Overlord. I’m not even going to pretend to know what’s going on with the space/psych/anything rockers’ new album, Zero, or how, say, the likes of Hydra Head got involved, which last I heard wasn’t even a label anymore. But hey, if anyone was going to travel to a mirror universe in which Hydra Head still put out records and make that deal happen, wouldn’t it be Pharaoh Overlord? Isn’t it just too perfect, somehow?

Whatever else you do today — and hey, I know you’re busy; we all are — take the time to stream “Maailmanlopun Ateriana” on the player at the bottom of this post. It’s six minutes long, but even broader in terms of mind expansion, and frankly, I think we could all use a little bit of that every now and again.

Zero hits April 27. The PR wire has this:
pharaoh overlord zero

PHARAOH OVERLORD set release date for new EKTRO / HYDRA HEAD album, reveal first track – features Demilich and Faust members

Today, Ektro Records – in cooperation with Hydra Head Records – sets April 27th as the international release date for Pharaoh Overlord’s highly anticipated new album, Zero.

Pharaoh Overlord steer an exceedingly singular course on Zero. Augmented by Antti Boman (Demilich) and Hans Joachim Irmler (Faust), the psychedelic supergroup (consisting of members from Circle) have taken their ouvre to a whole new psychiatric plateau on their ninth studio album.

Libido-driven arithmetics do not apply on these aberrant tracks. Zero provides an offbeat rock ‘n’ roll implosion, with its sonic realm contorting inwards like a sapient voice muffled by the gentle void of cyberspace. What the album has to offer is exposure to genuine ingenuity.

Tracklisting for Pharaoh Overlord’s Zero
Side A:
1. Revolution (8:43)
2. Maailmanlopun ateriana (6:14)
3. Meanwhile (6:02)

Side B:
1. Lalibela Cannot Spell Zero (9:00)
2. Satavuotiaiden Salaisuus (4:12)
3. I Drove All Night by My Solar Stomp (7:40)

www.facebook.com/Pharaoh-Overlord-297881594895
www.ektrorecords.com
www.facebook.com/ektrorecords
www.soundcloud.com/ektrorecords

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Amorphis Announce May 18 Release for Queen of Time

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

amorphis
You know what? The more we actually find out about this upcoming Amorphis album, the more excited I am to hear it. The band already announced a long, long string of North American tour dates to support it this Fall — and they hadn’t even given away the title yet. Well, the record is called Queen of Time — you’ll note that 2015’s Under a Red Cloud opened with “Death of a King,” the video for which you can see at the bottom of this post — and the newly-unveiled artwork is absolutely frickin’ awesome. I’d buy that shirt. Hell, I’d buy two. One to sleep in, one to wear around.

Oh who the hell am I kidding? I’d wear the sleepy shirt everywhere.

Even so, the point is I’m getting stoked to find out what the long-running Finnish outfit — who with Queen of Time also welcome back bassist Oppu Laine — have in store for their new outing, and though the info is coming in drips and drabs (i.e. no tracklisting yet), I’m just gonna keep posting the press releases and probably a video or two until the album itself actually shows up.

Come on. Come be psyched with me:

amorphis queen of time

AMORPHIS reveal album title, cover and release date

AMORPHIS have finally finished recording their upcoming new studio album, entitled Queen Of Time. The record is scheduled for a May 18th release via Nuclear Blast. In comparison to its predecessor, Under The Red Cloud (2015), the album will include the use of real strings, flutes, orchestral arrangements and even choirs! In addition, this will be the first time that people will be able to hear their lyricist Pekka Kainulainen on the album as he contributes a speech in Finnish.

Today, the band unveils some more details on the production, the album title, the album cover (see above) and on working with their new/old bassist Olli-Pekka Laine.

The album was once again produced by the famous Jens Bogren (OPETH, AMON AMARTH, KREATOR, and many others), who is well-known for challenging and motivating the artists during the recording process. He isn‘t afraid to push them to their limits!

Esa comments: “I guess Queen Of Time turned out as a massive surprise to all of us. During the rehearsing and pre-production we didn‘t have any idea that Jens had this huge picture inside of his head about the landscape of the album. It‘s a very natural continuation to Under The Red Cloud but with steroids. The songs are more aggressive but there‘s more dynamics, harmonies and orchestral arrangements present. The result is AMORPHIS as something you‘ve never heard before! Essentially, working with Jens worked really well. As a person he is very similar to us – we share the same kind of weird humor and we all like to work hard.”

The cover artwork, which was created once again by French artist Jean ”Valnoir” Simoulin from Metastazis, captures the feeling of the lyrics and the music. With Pekka Kainulainen’s (lyricist) words, the lyrical theme is universal: “Cultures rise, flourish, and are destroyed. The story of man is the story of searching, finding, and forgetting. A single spark can set the world afire, a single idea can give birth to a new culture. The greatest can stagnate into insignificance, the smallest can hold the power for change. The lyrics on this album are distant echoes of ancient forest peoples, from a time when meaning was proportioned by the cosmic forces that govern birth and death. If the connection was lost, they sought for a strand of knowledge, found a new direction, and a new age began.”

Queen Of Time will be also the first album with their old/new bass player Olli-Pekka ‘Oppu’ Laine following the departure of Niclas Etelävuori in 2017. Oppu was one of the founding members in 1990 and recorded the early releases with AMORPHIS (The Karelian Isthmus LP, 1992; Privilege Of Evil EP, 1993; Tales From The Thousand Lakes LP, 1994; Black Winter Day EP, 1995; Elegy LP, 1996; My Kantele EP, 1997 and the Tuonela LP, 1999) before he parted ways with the band in spring 2000.

“To be honest, Oppu was the only guy we could imagine being in AMORPHIS. It was funny – when we started to play our first shows together again last summer it all felt so familiar. He was involved with arranging songs and he also even brought some new songs to the table… really good ones, too!” says Esa. And Oppu adds: “Even though the last year with AMORPHIS has been exciting, nostalgic and fun, it’s also been truly comfortable to be with the guys again. As a clichéd expression, it’s been like returning home from a lenghty odyssey. After eighteen years, it feels like we are picking up where we left off from the good ol’ days! I’m really looking forward for the upcoming tour. The new album itself is a really strong package, the only hard thing will be picking which songs to play live! It‘s safe to say we are set to pull off some killer shows over the next few years. After that, I’m predicting a long and fruitful career for the band in its current form…”

The band will soon kick off pre-orders for Queen Of Time and release their first single, so stay tuned!

AMORPHIS, DARK TRANQUILLITY, MOONSPELL, OMNIUM GATHERUM
07.09. USA New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
08.09. CDN Montréal, QC – Café Campus
09.09. CDN Québec City, QC – Impérial de Québec
10.09. CDN Toronto, ON – The Opera House
11.09. USA Ft. Wayne, IN – Piere’s Entertainment Center
12.09. USA Detroit, MI – Harpos Concert Theatre
13.09. USA Joliet, IL – The Forge
14.09. USA Minneapolis, MN – The Cabooze
15.09. CDN Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre
17.09. CDN Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room
18.09. CDN Calgary, AB – Dickens
19.09. CDN Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
20.09. USA Seattle, WA – El Corazon
22.09. USA Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre
23.09. USA Anaheim, CA – City National Grove
24.09. USA West Hollywood, CA – Whiskey a Go Go
25.09. USA San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick
26.09. USA Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
27.09. USA Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
28.09. USA Salt Lake City, UT – Liquid Joe’s
29.09. USA Denver, CO – Herman’s Hideaway
01.10. USA Dallas, TX – Trees
02.10. USA San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box
03.10. USA Houston, TX – Scout Bar
05.10. USA Tampa, FL – The Orpheum
06.10. USA Lake Park, FL – Kelsey Theater
07.10. USA Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
09.10. USA Louisville, KY – Diamond Pub & Billiards
10.10. USA Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
11.10. USA Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
12.10. USA Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero Theatre
14.10. USA Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall

www.amorphis.net
www.facebook.com/amorphis
www.nuclearblast.de/amorphis

Amorphis, “Death of a King” official video

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Amorphis Announce Fall 2018 North American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

amorphis (Photo by Ville Juurikkala)

Well, I said last time around that I was going to be covering Finnish progressive/melodic metallers Amorphis leading up to the release of their next album, which will be the follow-up to 2015’s Under the Red Cloud, which was very, very good and about which I wrote nothing. Consider this me keeping my word. There hasn’t been any real confirmation of a release for said new album — guitarist Esa Holopainen says May as a tentative below, and it would seem likely to me that the fact that it’ll be September before the band comes to North American shores has more to do with a busy summer schedule playing European fests and the like than any thought the record might be delayed that long. One never knows, but that’s my guess.

And a May release would time well with June and July touring in Europe, which, again, hasn’t been announced to my knowledge, but seems like a reasonable enough plan should they want to hit the road on the quick after the album arrives.

It’s been Y-E-A-R-S since I last saw these guys play. Maybe if I work my schedule just right I can make it happen by the time September rolls around. Might be fun.

From the PR wire:

AMORPHIS TOUR POSTER

AMORPHIS announce N. American tour w/ DARK TRANQUILLITY, MOONSPELL and OMNIUM GATHERUM

Melancholic progressive metallers AMORPHIS will return to North America with a co-headlining trek with DARK TRANQUILLITY this September/October. Joining them are Portugal’s premiere gothic-metallic-force MOONSPELL, and Finnish melo-death contingent OMNIUM GATHERUM.

AMORPHIS will be touring in support of their soon to be announced new album, produced and mixed once again by Jens Bogren (OPETH, AMON AMARTH, KATATONIA). More details to be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

Guitarist Esa Holopainen commented:
“We are extremely excited to start the world tour with new album from North America. There’s been lot of requests to hit the states again after our last tour spring 2017. This time we come over with a killer package. Touring with DARK TRANQUILLITY, MOONSPELL and OMNIUM GATHERUM is almost like having a road trip with best mates around. Every band has a strong fanbase so there will be something for everyone.”

Holopainen continued and offered this update from the studio as well:
“We just finished new album recordings with our producer Jens Bogren and result is very bombastic! Album release is tentatively this May and it’s a great privilege to introduce new songs first time for North American audience. AMORPHIS has long history behind so once again we try to offer something for everyone. Impossible but doable. Shine on, see you soon and support live music. That keeps our engines running!”

AMORPHIS, DARK TRANQUILLITY, MOONSPELL, OMNIUM GATHERUM
Sep-07-18 New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
Sep-08-18 Montreal, QUE – Cafe Campus
Sep-09-18 Quebec City, QUE – Imperial de Quebec
Sep-10-18 Toronto, ONT – Opera House
Sep-11-18 Ft Wayne, IN – Pierre’s
Sep-12-18 Detroit, MI – Harpo’s
Sep-13-18 Joliet, Il – The Forge
Sep-14-18 Minneapolis, MN – The Cabooze
Sep-15-18 Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre
Sep-17-18 Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room
Sep 18-18 Calgary, AB – Dickens
Sep-19-18 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater
Sep-20-18 Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Sep-22-18 Berkeley, CA – The UC Theatre
Sep-23-18 Anaheim, CA – City National Grove
Sep-24-18 West Hollywood, CA – Whiskey a Go Go
Sep-25-18 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
Sep-26-18 Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
Sep-27-18 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
Sep-28-18 Salt Lake City, UT – Liquid joe’s
Sep-29-18 Denver, CO – Herman’s Hideaway
Oct-01-18 Dallas, TX – Trees
Oct-02-18 San Antonio, TX – Rock Box
Oct-03-18 Houston, TX – Scout Bar
Oct-05-18 Tampa, FL – Orpheum
Oct-06-18 West Palm Beach, FL – Kelsey Theater
Oct-07-18 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Oct-09-18 Louisville, KY – Diamond Pub and Billiards
Oct-10-18 Durham, NC – Motorco
Oct-11-18 Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Oct-12-18 Philadelphia, PA – The Trocadero
Oct-14-18 Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall

AMORPHIS’ most recent release, their 2015 studio album Under The Red Cloud, would go on to obtain gold status in Finland and reached great chart results all around the world, including their first ever entry in United Kingdom and Australia, as well as their highest ever entries in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. Following this success, they released their Under The Red Cloud Tour Edition in February 2017, including the entire album with two bonus songs as well as the live tracks of their An Evening With Friends-Shows @ Juhlaviikot – Huvila.

www.amorphis.net
www.facebook.com/amorphis
www.nuclearblast.de/amorphis

Amorphis, “Sacrifice” official video

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Review & EP Stream: Lowburn, Sleeping Giant

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

lowburn sleeping giant

[Click play above to stream Lowburn’s Sleeping Giant EP in full. It’s out Feb. 2 on Argonauta Records.]

With four tracks and four distinct takes between them, Lowburn‘s Sleeping Giant is an EP in the truest sense of the form. It is a formidable sampling of range within the sphere of heavy rock — especially for an outing half the duration of its predecessor — and even for those who experienced the Finnish four-piece’s 2015 full-length debut, Doomsayer, or any of their prior, shorter releases, it should make an impression with its efficiency and level of songcraft alike.

Delivering once again through Argonauta Records, the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Tomi Mykkänen (also Battlelore), guitarist Tommi Lintunen, bassist Miika Kokkola and drummer Henkka Vahvanen find their niche right on either side of the dividing line between heavy rock and more aggressive metal, and where a song like “Do Mi Ti” from the long-player had its element of grunge-style melody, even the melancholy closer here “Lost Control,” seems to have grown outward melodically from this impulse.

That’s an encouraging sign on a performance level, but what really distinguishes Sleeping Giant from Doomsayer or Lowburn‘s previous 2014 split with Church of Void or 2013 debut EP, Soaring High, is in the efficiency of the band’s work in executing the material. Whether it’s the forward charge of opener “All Life Long” or the more rolling groove of the subsequent “The Power it Holds” and “Sleeping Giant” itself — which, rest assured, awakes before it’s done — Lowburn do not spare a moment on Sleeping Giant, and they sound all the more assured coming off their debut of the kind of band they want to be and how they want to get where they’re going in terms of sound.

Interestingly, in doing so on Sleeping Giant, they start at more or less at the beginning. While there’s no question “All Life Long” gives Sleeping Giant a somewhat ironic launch with its full-boar energetic take, all-out from the drum lead-in through the sped-up Kyuss-style riffing that propels it through its four minutes to the burly delivery of Mykkänen, slowing only to catch its breath in the midsection before resuming its rush at the ending payoff. I’m not sure it’s the same recorded version — it’s close if not — but the song originates in 2013 and was initially released as a digital single around the time of Soaring High. Whether redone or not, the form is essentially the same, and it makes a somewhat sneakily appropriate lead-in for the three tracks that follow and expand the dynamic of the release overall.

lowburn

Lead guitar shines throughout “The Power it Holds,” which has plenty of room for soloing as it nears a seven-minute runtime, but it’s the slower, rolling groove that most stands the song out, and a better balance in the mix between the vocals and surrounding instruments that makes the tones sound larger and adds depth on the whole. Give the origin story of “All Life Long,” I’ll note that I don’t know when “The Power it Holds,” “Sleeping Giant” or closer “Lost Control” were recorded — they could well be from the same session; universe of infinite possibilities and all that — but in context they sound newer, more developed stylistically, and speak to that level of assuredness one can sense in Lowburn post-Doomsayer.

“Sleeping Giant” pushes this notion even further with a more immersive nod and a willingness to ride its groove that departs even further from “All Life Long” at the outset. Patience? Yeah, patience. It wasn’t entirely absent from Lowburn on Doomsayer by any means, but it serves the title-track particularly well and shifts smoothly into the low-key harmonies of “Lost Control” in a way that gives even this sampling-of-wares-style short release a sense of full-album flow.

Likewise, the closer’s subdued beginning feels very much like a mirror held up to the initial push of “All Life Long,” and in that draws attention once more to the growth undertaken on the part of Lowburn — not just to where they can write effective trades between verses and choruses without unneeded flourish or structural variance, but to where their material has evolved in range while holding onto that sense of purpose and drive regardless of the actual tempo in which they’re working. What their plans might be after this relatively quick offering, I don’t know, but the message comes through clearly in these tracks that while on the surface Lowburn‘s attack can seem at times to be more about boozy burl and dudely riffing that willful creative progression, there’s obviously plenty of both at play in their sound.

Lowburn on Thee Facebooks

Lowburn website

Lowburn on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

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