Firebreather to Tour Scandinavia with Monolord Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

firebreather

Gothenburg-based outfits Monolord and Firebreather will team up for a tour of Scandinavia next month. The run, limited to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, starts on Feb. 8 with a weekender and picks up on Feb. 15 in Copenhagen for another week of shows with a couple days off in the middle. I’m not sure if those dates will fill in or not, but it’s a cool regional run anyhow and I don’t know about you, but going on tour in Scandinavia sounds pretty fucking rad to me. I’d go. That’s all I’m saying. I’d go.

Firebreather made a galloping debut last year with their self-titled LP (review here) on Suicide Records, while Monolord offered thrills both riffy and expansive in their third full-length for RidingEasy, Rust (review here). Somewhat different vibes between these two, but if you’re looking for common ground beyond their hometown, I think they’d both certainly qualify as “very, very heavy,” and that’s always a good place to start.

Dates follow:

firebreather monolord tour

Scandinavia! We’re starting 2018 in style and will support Monolord on the following dates:

8/2 Porsgrunn, NO: Rockeklubben I Porsgrunn
9/2 Oslo, NO: Revolver
10/2 Sandnes, NO: Tribute
15/2 Copenhagen, DK: Musik Loppen
16/2 Malmö, SE: Plan B – malmö
17/2 Gothenburg, SE: Truckstop Alaska
20/2 Stockholm, SE: Slaktkyrkan
22/2 Tampere, FI: Klubi / Tampere
23/2 Vaasa, FI: Leipätehdas / DOM Munkhaus
24/2 Helsinki, FI: Kuudes Linja

Firebreather emerged from the ashes of doom-metal heavy-weights Galvano when riff extraordinaire and Orange Ambassador Mattias Nööjd decided to start a new band after Galvano being put to rest.

Forming in the spring of 2016 FIREBREATHER have quickly gained attention and notoriety for their distinct heavy sound and songwriting. Since FIREBREATHERs’ beginnings, the band has established a growing grass-roots underground following throughout Europe after only a short tour and taking to the stage with bands such as Zaum (CAN) and finally performing their first hometown show with Boris (JPN) in the late fall of 2016.

Line-up
Mattias Nööjd – Guitar & Vocals
Tommy Hanning – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/firebreathergbg/
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http://www.suiciderecords.se/

Firebreather, Firebreather (2017)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2017

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top-20-debut-albums

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

Every successive year brings an absolute inundation of underground productivity. Every year, someone new is inspired to pick up a guitar, bass, drums, mic, keyboard, theremin, cello — whatever it might be — and set themselves to the task of manifesting the sounds they hear in their head.

This is unspeakably beautiful in my mind, and as we’ve done in years past, it seems only fair to celebrate the special moment of realization that comes with a band’s first album. The debut full-length. Sometimes it’s a tossed-off thing, constructed from prior EPs or thrown together haphazardly from demo tracks, and sometimes it’s a meticulously picked-over expression of aesthetic — a band coming out of the gate brimming with purpose and desperate to communicate it, whatever it might actually happen to be.

We are deeply fortunate to live in an age (for now) of somewhat democratized access to information. That is, if you want to hear a thing — or if someone wants you to hear a thing — it’s as simple as sharing and/or clicking a link. The strong word of mouth via ubiquitous social media, intuitive recording software, and an ever-burgeoning swath of indie labels and other promotional vehicles means bands can engage an audience immediately if they’re willing to do so, and where once the music industry’s power resided in the hands of a few major record companies, the divide between “listener” and “active participant” has never been more blurred.

Therefore, it is a good — if crowded — time for an act to be making their debut, even if it’s something that happens basically every day, and all the more worth celebrating the accomplishments of these first-albums both on their current merits and on the potential they may represent going forward. Some percent of a best-debuts list is always speculation. That’s part of what makes it so much fun.

As always, I invite you to let me know your favorite picks in the comments (please keep it civil). Here are mine:

telekinetic-yeti-abominable

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2017

1. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
2. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
3. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
4. Dool, Here Now There Then
5. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days
6. Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages
7. Vinnum Sabbathi, Gravity Works
8. Tuna de Tierra, Tuna de Tierra
9. Brume, Rooster
10. Moon Rats, Highway Lord
11. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
12. OutsideInside, Sniff a Hot Rock
13. Hymn, Perish
14. Riff Fist, King Tide
15. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine
16. Abronia, Obsidian Visions/Shadowed Lands
17. Book of Wyrms, Sci-Fi Fantasy
18. Firebreather, Firebreather
19. REZN, Let it Burn
20. Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

Honorable Mention

Alastor, Black Magic
Devil’s Witches, Velvet Magic
Elbrus, Elbrus
Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
Grigax, Life Eater
High Plains, Cinderland
Kingnomad, Mapping the Inner Void
Lord Loud, Passé Paranoia
Masterhand, Mind Drifter
The Necromancers, Servants of the Salem Girl
Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher
Petyr, Petyr
The Raynbow, The Cosmic Adventure
Savanah, The Healer
War Cloud, War Cloud
WhiteNails, First Trip

I could keep going with honorable mentions, and no doubt will add a few as people remind me of other things on which I brainfarted or whathaveyou, preferably without calling me an idiot, though I recognize that sometimes that’s a lot to ask. Either way, the point remains that the heavy underground remains flush with fresh infusions of creativity and that as another generation comes to maturity, still another is behind it, pushing boundaries forward or looking back and reinventing what came before them.

Notes

Will try and likely fail to keep this brief, but the thing I find most striking about this list is the variety of it. That was not at all something I planned, but even if you just look at the top five, you’ve got Telekinetic Yeti at the forefront. Abominable is something of a speculative pick on my part for the potential it shows on the part of the Midwestern duo in their songcraft and tonality, but then you follow them with four other wildly different groups in Rozamov, Mindkult, Dool and Eternal Black. There you’ve got extreme sludge from Boston, a Virginian one-man cult garage project, Netherlands-based dark heavy rock with neo-goth flourishes, and crunching traditionalist doom from New York in the vein of The Obsessed.

What I’m trying to say here is that it’s not just about one thing, one scene, one sound, or one idea. It’s a spectrum, and at least from where I sit, the quality of work being done across that spectrum is undeniable. Think of the prog-doom majesty Arduini/Balich brought to their collaborative debut, or the long-awaited groove rollout from Vinnum Sabbathi, or how Italy’s Tuna de Tierra snuck out what I thought was the year’s best desert rock debut seemingly under everybody’s radar. Stylistically and geographically these bands come from different places, and as with Brume and Moon Rats, even when a base of influence is similar, the interpretation thereof can vary widely and often does.

That Moon Rats album wasn’t covered nearly enough. I’m going to put it in the Quarterly Review coming up just to give another look at the songwriting on display, which was maddening in its catchiness. Maddening in its cacophony of noise was Stone and Skin from Brooklyn’s Thera Roya, which found itself right on the cusp of the top 10 with backing from the ’70s heavy rock vibes of the post-Carousel Pittsburgh outfit OutsideInside. Norway’s Hymn thrilled with their bleak atmospheres, while Australia’s Riff Fist showed off a scope they’d barely hinted at previously, and Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree offered surprises of their own in their warm heavy psych tonality and mostly-instrumental immersion. That record caught me almost completely off-guard. I was not at all prepared to dig it as much as I did.

Thrills continue to abound and resound as the Young Hunter-related outfit Abronia made their first offering of progressive, Americana-infused naturalist heavy, while Book of Wyrms dug themselves into an oozing riffy largesse on the other side of the country and Sweden’s Firebreather emerged from the defunct Galvano to gallop forth and claim victory a la early High on Fire. REZN’s Let it Burn got extra points in my book for the unabashed stonerism of it, while it was the ambience of Ealdor Bealu’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain that kept me going back to it. An album that was genuinely able to project a sense of mood without being theatrical about it was all the more impressive for it being their first. But that’s how it goes, especially on this list.

There you have it. Those are my picks. I recognize I’m only one person and a decent portion of my year was taken up by personal matters — having, losing a job; pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, etc. — but I did my best to hear as much music as I could in 2017 and I did my best to make as much of it as new as I could.

Still, if there’s something egregious I left out or just an album you’d like to champion, hell yes, count me in. What were some of your favorites? Comments are right down there. Let’s get a discussion going and maybe we can all find even more music to dig into.

Thanks for reading and here’s to 2018 to come and the constant renewal of inspiration and the creative spirit.

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Firebreather, Firebreather

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

firebreather firebreather

[Click play above to stream Firebreather’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out Friday, Oct. 13, via Suicide Records. Tour dates posted here.]

During their decade together, Sweden’s Galvano grew increasingly progressive in their delivery of semi-sludged metal, such that the chugging of their 2015 swansong, Trail of the Serpent, found them more in line with bands like The Ocean than the Black Cobra-style thrust proffered by their prior 2012 debut, Two Titans. Aligned to Candlelight, that two-piece was led by guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd and would seem to have come to an end sometime after touring with Snailking and Zaum in Autumn 2015.

Nööjd resurfaces in Firebreather alongside bassist Kyle Pitcher and drummer Tommy Hanning, and in terms of relating to his past songwriting, it would seem he’s made clear efforts to get back to basics: pummel, tone, and push. Firebreather‘s self-titled debut runs a bone-crunching but totally manageable 33 minutes. Its four songs — “Fire Foretold” (7:09), “Emerald Eyes” (7:42), “The Ice Lord” (6:13) and “Release the Lava” (11:34) — split neatly into two vinyl sides, and the whole affair is somewhat unassuming on the surface. But just as the deep-toned Adam Burke cover art carries such a sense of illumination in darkness — just what fire has been lit in that cave? — so too does Firebreather‘s material soon unveil the breadth of its threat in the push and gallop that takes hold after the wind-swirl and nodding intro to “Fire Foretold,” Pitcher‘s bass leading a charge that, particularly when Hanning‘s steady snare joins and Nööjd adds his guttural vocals to start the first verse, feels almost singularly derived from High on Fire.

But not just any High on Fire, and not just any derivation. Early High on Fire. High on Fire at their most marauding, when the notion of taking filthy sludge tones and making them do things that only Celtic Frost and Slayer might otherwise dare was a novelty. This era — begun with their 1999 self-titled demo and continued onto 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense and 2002’s Surrounded by Thieves — is recognizable in the speedy immediacy of “Fire Foretold” as well as the lurching buildup that begins around the midpoint of “The Ice Lord,” and Nööjd‘s vocals are a big part of it, recalling pre-melody Matt Pike telling tales of monsters and conquests through material material that seems so violent one almost doesn’t notice how catchy it is; hello, “Emerald Eyes.” It’s more than just Nööjd‘s approach to singing though.

firebreather

In the structure of the lyrics and the rhythm of their delivery, one can hear it, and in the guitar and bass tones as well. These latter could be likened to a dull battle axe. That sounds like it’s not a compliment — wouldn’t one want to be sharp? — but if we keep with Firebreather in terms of representing a take on the aesthetic of formative High on Fire, the idea of the blade being dulled is crucial. A sharp blade cuts cleanly. It slices through: one swing. Swoop, done. It’s fresh, crisp. Maybe unused. A dull battle axe, on the other hand, maybe has a chip in one side of its blade from the neckbone of an enemy. It does not cut cleanly. When it cuts, it has to tear into chunks of raw meat its chosen target. The process is bloody, messy, full of gore. And the difference is one could argue High on Fire have become more and more sharpened over time, but in interpreting their influence on this self-titled, Firebreather dig back to the nastier, rounded edges that once so brutally cleaved the skulls of the unsuspecting.

Whether that’s done in the thud-and-churn in which “Emerald Eyes” is resolved or the broader epic-style storytelling that takes place across the fluid tempo shifts of “Release the Lava,” it’s a spirit Firebreather bring to life with marked purpose and a suitably righteous insistence, and despite the clear focus as regards their chief point of inspiration, their songs are not without an identity of their own. Particularly with the closer’s more patient delivery, rolling through its first two and a half minutes before the drums drop out to let the central riff be introduced and the first verse built toward, Nööjd, Pitcher and Hanning begin the process of carving out their niche, which includes some subtle, perhaps nascent use of melody in the still-from-the-gut shouted vocals that on “Fire Foretold” or “Emerald Eyes” hardly seemed to be a consideration despite layering in the hooks.

How Firebreather might continue to develop and distinguish themselves from their chief influence and from Nööjd‘s past efforts in Galvano, their debut presents a clear stylistic vision and intent — which is to say that the material doesn’t at all feel like it just stumbled into this sound. Rather, like a hilltop declaration of war, Firebreather‘s Firebreather sets forth with bludgeonry in mind and benefits from the knowledge of how to make it happen. It is the underlying memorability that comes through in the band’s songwriting, however, that will most let them flourish in the years and releases to come, and one hopes that as they storm the countryside on horseback spattering brain matter in their wake they remember that craft is the handle of the axe they so capably wield here.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

Firebreather on Instagram

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Firebreather Announce Tour Dates with Zaum; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

firebreather

Gothenburg-based three-piece Firebreather are gearing up to gallop off with hearts and minds — also presumably a soul or two — when they issue their self-titled debut EP via Suicide Records on Oct. 13. That same night, the band will head out on tour as support for Canadian ritualists Zaum, which makes sense when you keep in mind that the lineup for Firebreather boasts guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd, who used to be in now-defunct bashers Galvano, with whom Zaum also toured. Maybe more than once, if I recall correctly.

In any case, it’s called continuity, so yeah, Firebreather and Zaum hitting the road together makes sense in part because of it. The other part is just because it makes sense, if you’re wondering.

Firebreather are streaming the new track “Fire Foretold” now, which leads off their EP. You can hear it at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire has more:

firebreather zaum tour poster

FIREBREATHER: EU tour dates with Canadian legends Zaum announced

FIREBREATHER EP is released on 13th October 2017 on Suicide Records

There’s no escaping the fact that Sweden is an incomparable breeding ground for some of the heaviest and most crushing metal bands in the world right now. Amon Amarth, Grand Magus, Candlemass, Vokonis, Monolord… all have crossed the water and duly conquered in recent years. In fact, even those yet to arrive can more often than not be found waiting in the wings, battle horn in hand heralding trepidation, Scandinavian-promise and riffs the size of long ships.

One such band waiting to scorch the earth upon which they land is Gothenburg trio FIREBREATHER who will release their self-titled debut album on Suicide Records this coming October. Relatively new to the fold having formed in the spring of 2016 from the ashes of underground doom heavyweights Galvano, FIREBREATHER is a devastatingly weighty statement of intent. Taking in four tracks that swallow time behind tooth shattering riffs from guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd and crunching rhythms via bassist Kyle Pitcher and Tommy Hanning (newly replaced by drummer Fredrik Käll), FIREBREATHER are a jaw-breaking triptych of sludge and doom rock.

Mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Corrosion of Conformity, Beastmilk, Obituary) at his Audioseige Studio in Portland, OR and featuring artwork by legendary underground artist Adam Burke, FIREBREATHER are out to make 2017 their own.

FIREBREATHER hit the road this October with Canadian legends Zaum for a number of dates across Europe.

FIREBREATHER live w/ ZAUM:
10/13 Kiel DE Alte Meirei
10/14 Hamburg** DE Astra Stube
10/15 Freiburg DE The White Rabbit
10/16 Torino IT Haram’s Graveyard
10/18 St. Feliu de Codines ES Inciviczone
10/19 Zaragoza ES Arrebato
10/20 Madrid ES TBC
10/21 Cascais PT Stairway Club
10/22 Galicia ES TBC
10/25 Zagreb HR Vintage Industrial
10/26 Brno C Bakjazyl
10/27 Szeged HU Grand Cafe
10/28 Carpi IT Ekinda
10/29 Bistrica ob Sotli SI Klub Metulj
10/30 Timisoara RO Club Daos
10/31 Plzen CZ TBC
11/03 Gothenburg SE Truckstop Alaska

FIREBREATHER:
Mattias Nööjd – Guitar, Vocals
Fredrik Käll – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass

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Firebreather Sign to Suicide Records; Self-Titled Debut Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Swedish burl-riffers Firebreather will make their self-titled debut later this year through Suicide Records. I don’t know exactly when, but the label in announcing it had signed the band gave a tentative date of “summer” and as it seems that the record’s already been mastered — by none less than Brad Boatright of Audiosiege himself — so given invariable pressing delays, that sounds about right as a seasonal ballpark. The Göteborg trio, which boasts in its ranks former Galvano guitarist Mattias Nööjd, have a minute-long trailer for the album playing now that you can hear below, and yeah, that sounds about right.

Firebreather have been playing locally in Sweden and done a few dates out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more touring was to come. You might recall Galvano had at one point hit the road with Zaum and were signed to Candlelight, so it seems entirely likely Nööjd will look to recapture some of that momentum with this new outfit as they move into releasing their first long-player and getting out to support it. When, if and what I hear, I’ll let you know.

Till then, Suicide Records sent over the following:

firebreather

We are extremely psyched to announce that Swedish Sludge/Doom trio Firebreather has signed with us at Suicide Records and that we will be releasing their debut S/T album this summer on Vinyl, Cassette, CD and Digital, exact date TBA.

Firebreather emerged from the ashes of doom-metal heavy-weights Galvano when riff extraordinaire and Orange Ambassador Mattias Nööjd decided to start a new band after Galvano being put to rest.

Forming in the spring of 2016 FIREBREATHER have quickly gained attention and notoriety for their distinct heavy sound and songwriting.

Since FIREBREATHERs’ beginnings, the band has established a growing grass-roots underground following throughout Europe after only a short tour and taking to the stage with bands such as Zaum (CAN) and finally performing their first hometown show with Boris (JPN) in the late fall of 2016.

Line-up
Mattias Nööjd – Guitar & Vocals
Tommy Hanning – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/firebreathergbg/
https://www.instagram.com/firebreathergbg/
https://www.facebook.com/suiciderds/
http://www.suiciderecords.se/

Firebreather, Firebreather album teaser

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