Review & Track Premiere: Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud-eater-strike-the-sun

[Click play above to stream ‘Awaken Assassin’ from Shroud Eater’s Strike the Sun. Album is out July 7 via STB Records.]

Check your calendar. It’s been a whopping six years — actually more like six and a half — since Miami sludge machine Shroud Eater released their debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here). They’ve hardly been idle in the half-decade-plus since then; the three-piece have churned out a slew of shorter releases, from the 2013 Dead Ends EP (review here) that began to give some context to the band’s stylistic expansion from the raw foundation of their initial demo (review here) in 2009 that took place on ThunderNoise and would continue through 2015’s Face the Master single (video premiere here), 2016’s split EP with post-metallers Dead Hands (review here) or earlier 2017’s :th:ree: :cvrses: digital single, which found the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer/vocalist/engineer Davin Sosa at their most experimental to-date, adding synth to a deeply atmospheric, cinematic but still noise-laden and extremely dark approach.

The stylistic reach Shroud Eater claimed as theirs across these offerings — some just one song long — and from their time spent touring and playing events like Psycho Las Vegas has made it increasingly difficult to predict where their awaited second full-length and STB Records debut, Strike the Sun, might lead them, and across 42 minutes/eight tracks, the band accordingly showcase six busy years’ worth of sonic lesson-learning. They still occasionally veer into the post-High on Fire gallop that typified their early work on a song like the penultimate “Unseen Hand” or parts of finale “Futile Exile,” but on the whole, they offer something much broader, more varied in tempo and mood, and more satisfying than anything they’ve done before.

As each of their outings to this point has brought something new to their approach, Strike the Sun does so as well, and in addition, offers an engaging summary of their evolution over the last eight years. Also worth noting, it is spell-out-the-letters h-e-a-v-y. One might find a tonal comparison point in Conan‘s more recent output for the kind of rumble Shroud Eater bring to “Iron Mountain” early on Strike the Sun or side B’s rolling “It Walks Among,” but even this is only a fraction of the whole when it comes to the complete, dark-hued narrative they’re conveying. The album breaks neatly in half for a two-sided feel, and each begins with an atmospheric intro — the washing drone of “Smokeless Fire” leads off, while “Dream Flesh” starts side B; both are infused with vague, melodic vocals — before digging into three tracks of pummel, drive, roll and nod. Whether it’s the landmark hook that “Awaken Assassin” provides in following “Iron Mountain” or the turn from wah-bass-infused stomp into ambient melodicism on “It Walks Among” — which of course is a setup for that track’s lumbering finale — Shroud Eater‘s dynamic has never sounded more alive.

Creative variety and arrangements of vocals between SaizValentine and Sosa give “Futile Exile” a growing aggression and “Iron Mountain” or the earlier stretch of “It Walks Among” a spacious, shouting echo, but the harmonies in “Awaken Assassin” are not at all out of place in either theory or execution. And neither are they less effective in conveying a mood than some of Strike the Sun‘s more destructive moments in the midsection of “Iron Mountain,” the apex of “Futile Exile” or the whole of “Unseen Hand” are in eliciting a physical listener response, be it fist pumping, headbanging, or some other signal of the righteousness on display. The bottom line is that Shroud Eater bring forth a multi-tiered triumph across the span of Strike the Sun, marked by an impeccable sense of craft, strength through diversity of approach and a cohesive vision of what they want to accomplish as a group. Any concerns of a six-year-later sophomore slump should be duly allayed.

shroud eater

That is, I’ll allow, a fan’s perspective on what Shroud Eater have done here, and there will invariably be those for whom Strike the Sun is their first exposure to the band. On that level, flourish like the subdued tension in “Smokeless Fire” and “Dream Flesh,” or the samples that top the noisy instrumental side A closer “Another Skin” seems all the more to bolster the impression of the record as a singular entirety. As SaizValentine and Sosa careen and crash through “Iron Mountain” and “Awaken Assassin,” the subsequent pairing of “Another Skin” and “Dream Flesh” — when listening in a linear format; digital or CD — emphasizes a between-songs flow with which full-lengths so outwardly heavy rarely concern themselves.

Likewise, as “It Walks Among” revives the full tectonic doom of their assault, it remains informed by the ambient stretch before it, and the material as a whole plays off itself in this way, giving Strike the Sun all the more a sense of consciousness behind its motivations that winds up summarized in “Futile Exile,” which in addition to being the finale is also the longest track at 7:20. Starting with a swell of volume and thundering crashes, it turns to nod and thrust early before finding a tension of toms as it heads to a more angular midsection, eventually dropping out to quiet in the second half and introducing melodic singing over thudding drums in setting up the crescendo that starts around 6:30 and will finish the record with a cold stop. A little bit of everything and a last warning from the band in that sudden end that they haven’t necessarily had their final word. So be it.

Up to this point, everything Shroud Eater has done has felt loaded with potential. All along, they’ve been a group headed somewhere on the level of individual aesthetic. More than anything before it, Strike the Sun comes across as the destination to which their progression has been leading. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done growing as artists — I don’t think they are, and nothing in these tracks indicates a readiness to stagnate — but there’s pivotal work being done here to establish what Shroud Eater‘s sound is, both to the band itself and to their audience, and in conveying that, Strike the Sun succeeds in a way that more than justifies the years in its arrival. Feeling greedy, one hopes it’s not so long before a third long-player surfaces, but if it is, at least we know their commitment to developing as artists is unflinching.

Shroud Eater on Thee Facebooks

Shroud Eater on Bandcamp

Shroud Eater’s website

STB Records webstore

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

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Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

Grey Gallows on Thee Facebooks

Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

Smoke Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Hollow Leg to Release Crown: Murder Edition for June Tour

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

hollow-leg-Photo-Pamela-Bendezu

What’s that you say? You’re pretty sure I’ve already posted these Hollow Leg tour dates for their June run up the East Coast that includes a stop at Maryland Doom Fest at Cafe 611 in Frederick on June 24, where they’ll share the stage with BangWo FatEarthrideSerpents of SecrecyThe WatchersHeavy TempleKing BisonThe WellWitches of GodBlack Tap Prophet and Conclave? Oh, most definitely.

Why do so again? Because Hollow Leg are frickin’ awesome live and they it’s not like they spend seven months out of the year on the road, so if you get the chance to see them, you should do so. They’ll be bringing a new Argonauta Records reissue of their 2016 album, Crown (review here), with them that includes the 2017 Murder EP (review here) as bonus material — as well as tapes of the EP pressed by Southern Druid Records and some snazzy-looking new shirts for the merch table — and even if you’re not in their path this time around, you can preorder that release now from Argonauta ahead of its official arrival on June 30.

Info (and dates!) follow here, as culled from the wilds of social media:

hollow leg june tour

Hollow Leg – Crown: Murder Edition & June Tour

In addition to CD reissue of CROWN with Murder EP as bonus tracks, our friends at Southern Druid have been so good to release the Murder EP in cassette format…purple tinted tapes look super cool! And we will have these in addition to the “Murder edition” Crown CDs next month on our run up and down the coast and return stop at Maryland Doom fest.

3 weeks til we pack up for our first piece of touring in the last year, 4 weeks til we breach Winston-Salem for the first time, can’t wait to get back out, see all your beautiful faces, and consequently melt them.

HOLLOW LEG Northeast Migration tour:
06/17 Jacksonville FL Nighthawks
06/19 Atlanta GA 529
06/20 Raleigh NC Slim’s
06/21 Richmond VA 25 Watt
06/22 Boston MA O’Brien’s
06/23 New London CT 33 Golden Street
06/24 Frederick MD Maryland Doom Fest Cafe 611
06/25 Winston-Salem NC The Test Pattern
08/18 Las Vegas NV Psycho Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

https://www.facebook.com/events/257151751359592
https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl/
https://twitter.com/hollowlegfl
http://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/music-/209-hollow-leg-crown-murder-edition-cd.html
http://southerndruidrecords.storenvy.com/products/20174882-hollow-leg-murder-ep

Hollow Leg, “Raven” official video

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Holly Hunt to Release The Wait / Bowling Green May 18; East Coast Tour this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

holly-hunt-Photo-Credit-Walter-Wlodarczyk

I can only think of one kind of person who wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of new material forthcoming from Miami two-piece Holly Hunt, and that kind of person is a straight-up jive turkey. For the rest of us, word of a new single pressed to a 12″ platter is nothing but good news, to be sure. The instrumentalist duo had a glut of releases a couple years back and it was easy to get spoiled, but it’s been a while as we move deeper into 2017, so the arrival of preorders for The Wait / Bowling Green — even at just about seven minutes between them — is fine by me. It’s not an album, but, you know, it’s not nothing either. And it’s been nothing for a while now, so don’t be a jive turkey about it.

Jive turkey.

The May 18 release of The Wait / Bowling Green coincides with the May 20 start of a run up the Eastern Seaboard that Holly Hunt will undertake alongside Crud as the latter make their way to and through Maryland Deathfest 2017 at the end of this month. Dates follow the release info below:

holly hunt the wait bowling green

Holly Hunt – S/T 12”

May 18, 2017, Holly Hunt return with a new two-song, self-titled 12” single released by Sonic Titan. Both songs were recorded, mixed and mastered by Rat Bastard at Dan Hosker Studio in Miami Beach. A side, “The Wait” (4:00) is a melodic, melancholic song, and the B side is a heavy rager called “Bowling Green” (3:09). The record will be available through the band’s Bandcamp page, select record stores, as well as on their upcoming tour with Crud May 20th – May 31st.

Drummer Beatriz Monteavaro and guitarist Gavin Perry capture the meditative power of repetition; the ecstatic joy of tempered variation; infinitely undulating riffage; psychedelic drone paired with rock n’ roll rhythm in full splendor. Though stripped down to the most bare essentials, Holly Hunt produces a sound and style far beyond rudimentary tags like “heavy,” “hard,” or “brutal.”

Preorder now at hollyhunt.bandcamp.com
Photo credit: Walter Wlodarczyk.
Front cover illustration by Beatriz Monteavaro.

CRUD and Holly Hunt will be greasing through the East Coast in May. Catch the filth in your city.

5/20 Savannah, GA at The Jinx w/ Gaul
5/21 Raleigh, NC at Slims w/ Gaul*
5/22 Richmond, VA at McCormacks Irish Pub
5/23 Brooklyn, NY at Lucky 13
5/24 Philadelphia, PA at Century Bar
5/25 Baltimore, MD at Maryland Deathfest*
5/26 Columbus, OH at The Summit
5/27 Lexington, KY at The Green Lantern Bar
5/28 Murfreesboro, TN at Autograph Studios
5/29 Asheville, NC at Static Age Records
5/30 Atlanta, GA at The Earl w/ Junior Bruce
5/31 Gainesville, FL The Atlantic w/ Junior Bruce
*CRUD only

https://www.facebook.com/HOLLYHUNT.LTD/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1245418958872759/
https://twitter.com/HollyHunt666
hollyhunt.bandcamp.com

Holly Hunt, “Bill Ward”

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Hollow Leg Post “Raven” Video; East Coast Tour in June

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

Floridian sludge metallers Hollow Leg will make a return to the Maryland Doom Fest in June at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland. If you weren’t there to see it, they pretty much slaughtered the place last year (review here), playing in support of their recently-issued third long-player and debut for Argonauta RecordsCrown (review here). This year, they’ll be heralding the two-songer Murder EP (review here), on which they continue to make the difficult sound easy with their blend of catchy hooks and abrasive sludge overtones. They also have a new video for “Raven” that I think makes that point pretty well.

They’re not the first to write a hook and make it hit hard, but what Hollow Leg do so fluidly is sound completely unhinged while still relying on what are basically straightforward verse/chorus traditions. That’s not at all a small accomplishment, but if you listen to “Raven,” you’ll hear that along with the rasp of vocalist Scott Angelacos, the dense tonality of guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch and bassist Tom Crowther, and the fluid roll from newly-acquired drummer John Stewart, there’s a firm structural foundation underlying what they’re doing, so that by the time you’re listening to the song twice through, it’s already familiar, already stuck in your head in a way that a lot of sludge simply becomes a wash of screamy disaffection and nod. In a word: they’re songwriters.

And as the video shows, they’re not short on charm either. What they call an “in-studio footage video” for “Raven” has a bit of that, but it also features plenty of shots of them doing other stuff, including what looks like shopping for lawn ornaments at some outdoor market and/or swap meet? Legitimately something I’ve never seen in a rock video before, in any case. At one point they find some pretty rad looking carved-wood furniture (that shit is expensive) and have a seat, but yeah, on the whole it’s one more way in which Hollow Leg manage to surprise while still conveying a sense of madness with their approach on the whole.

You can find the “Raven” video below, followed by the East Coast tour dates surrounding Maryland Doom Fest for June. Also of note, of course, is the slot in August they’ve got booked at Psycho Las Vegas. To my knowledge, that’s probably the biggest show they’ve ever played, and good on them for landing it.

Enjoy:

Hollow Leg, “Raven” official video

HOLLOW LEG Northeast Migration tour:
06/17 Jacksonville FL Nighthawks
06/19 Atlanta GA 529
06/20 Raleigh NC Slim’s
06/21 Richmond VA 25 Watt
06/22 Boston MA O’Brien’s
06/23 New London CT 33 Golden Street
06/24 Frederick MD Maryland Doom Fest Cafe 611
06/25 Winston-Salem NC The Test Pattern
08/18 Las Vegas NV Psycho Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Dread Sovereign, Lizzard Wizzard, Oulu Space Jam Collective, Frozen Planet….1969, Ananda Mida, Strange Broue, Orango, Set and Setting, Dautha

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartless

Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.

Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls

dread-sovereign-for-doom-the-bell-tolls

With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lizzard Wizzard, Total War Power Bastard

lizzard-wizzard-total-war-power-bastard

Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

 

Oulu Space Jam Collective, EP1

Oulu-Space-Jam-Collective-ep1

Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.

Oulu Space Jam Collective on Thee Facebooks

Eggs in Aspic webstore

 

Frozen Planet…. 1969, Electric Smokehouse

frozen-planet-1969-electric-smokehouse

They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.

Frozen Planet…. 1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Anodnatius

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Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.

Ananda Mida on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Strange Broue, Seance

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The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.

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Sunmask Records webstore

 

Orango, The Mules of Nana

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Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.

Orango on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Set and Setting, Reflectionless

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There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.

Set and Setting on Thee Facebooks

Set and Setting webstore

 

Dautha, Den Foerste

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Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.

Dautha on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

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Cave of Swimmers Tour Starts this Weekend; New Song Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Miami two-piece Cave of Swimmers have a new track available as a free download. I joined their mailing list just now and grabbed it for myself to check out. I’m of two minds when it comes to talking about it, because they’ve very clearly made efforts not to give away what it is. Part of me would like to say, “Oh yeah, they’re doing this and this and it’s called this,” and so on, but I almost don’t want to give it away. I’ll say that it’s a cover, and that if you ever listened to classic thrash, you’ll probably recognize it based on the title alone, but I think it’s probably best to leave it there out of respect for the band.

The link where you can get the track and find out or yourself what Cave of Swimmers are up to this time around is below. I’m sure it’ll be on Bandcamp eventually as well, though I’ve gotten no confirmation of that.

This weekend, Misters Perez and García start a Southern tour that will find them spending much of the next week in Texas. The run, dubbed ‘Southern Lights,’ includes dates with Scott Kelly and Jucifer, and the routing follows here:

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Cave of Swimmers will embark on their Southern Lights Tour February 26th. They will join Scott Kelly from Neurosis in that night’s lineup in Jacksonville. They will also join Jucifer on the Houston date. To top it off, make sure to check out the free song download on their website caveofswimmers.com/free

Cave of Swimmers Southern Lights Tour:
Feb 26 Jacksonville, FL at Raindogs w/ Scott Kelly
Feb 27 Murfreesboro, TN at The Boro
March 1 Memphis, TN, at Rickhouse Live
March 2 Tulsa, OK at Soundpony
March 3 Dallas, TX at The Double Wide
March 4 San Antonio, TX at Faust Tavern
March 5 Austin, TX at Hotel Vegas
March 6 Corpus Christi, TX at Black Monk Tavern
March 7 Houston, TX at Super Happy Fun Land w/ Jucifer
March 8 New Orleans, LA at Poor Boys
March 10 Sarasota, FL at Kelly’s Live
March 11 Gainesville, FL at The Atlantic

Cave of Swimmers is a band formed by two Venezuelan kids who met in the 4th grade. After moving to Miami in the mid 2000s, they reunited to form a band with an original take on heavy music. Fast, slow, spooky, sludgy, progressive, you name it: Cave of Swimmers does it their own way.

Cave of Swimmers is:
G.E. Perez: Vocals, Guitar, 6/4 Bass, Synth
Arturo García : Drums, Percussion, Vocals

http://caveofswimmers.com
http://caveofswimmers.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/caveofswimmers

Cave of Swimmers, Reflection (2015)

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Hollow Leg, Murder EP: Dark Skies Ahead (Plus Track Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg murder

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Raven’ from Hollow Leg’s new EP, Murder. Release is March 3 via Argonauta Records.]

About three years ago, Floridian sludge metallers Hollow Leg issued a single called “God Eater” (posted here). It was a one-off, kind of something to hold over between 2013’s Abysmal (review here) and Crown (review here), which would eventually arrive in 2016. And it was only ever a single-song digital-only deal, but it showed a marked shift in approach on the part of the band, backing off on some of their earlier rawness in favor of glimpsing melody and Southern metal groove. That song has stayed with me to some degree since 2014, and I only bring it up because it was the last time the Jacksonville four-piece had a short release out, so naturally, going into their new Argonauta Records two-songer, Murder — positioned as an EP rather than a single; fair since I don’t know if it’d fit on a 7″ for runtime — I couldn’t help but wonder in what ways they’d try to build on what Crown accomplished.

And to that — Crown accomplished plenty. Hollow Leg have always had a root in sludge metal, and the aggression in vocalist Scott Angelacos‘ roar will remain a defining aspect to anyone who takes on the Murder EP, but their last album opened new doors of their creative development and the band stormed through them with their usual brash plunder. Plenty about it was familiar going back to their 2010 debut, Instinct, but Angelacos, guitarist/vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer Tim Creter were very obviously working to push themselves forward in their sound as well.

Fortunately, Murder continues this process. It also marks a personnel shift, bringing in drummer John Stewart, also of Orlando’s Caribou King, in place of Creter. That in itself could be enough justification for the release — Creter was a founding member, so it could be that Hollow Leg were looking to try out the new lineup in the studio and are happy enough with the results to make them public — but either way, Stewart fits well in the role and his arrival does nothing audible to hold up the stylistic progression within Hollow Leg, who between the two tracks “Murder” (7:25) and “Raven” (5:33) showcase continued instrumental growth. The opener begins at a shuffle that seems to be in direct conversation with “Electric Veil” from Crown, more upbeat than one has necessarily come to expect from Hollow Leg, but still fluid in its groove and molasses-thick in tone.

hollow leg

At about the halfway point, they turn the tempo somewhat on its head and ride out the nod, but in Lynch‘s riff early and Crowther‘s accompanying bass — which gets a particular moment to shine just before five minutes in — there’s a feeling of departure similar to what “Electric Veil” brought to the full-length, as though somebody in the band had been listening to Uncle Acid and sought to bring some of that garage-style boogiecraft into the context of what Hollow Leg does. On paper, it shouldn’t work. The reality of “Murder,” on the other hand, is a satisfying push of sludge that expands the dimensions of Hollow Leg‘s comfort zone to include another aspect of stylistic nuance. They finish by bringing back a heavy rock thrust, crashing out and letting the amp-rumble take them into “Raven,” which begins with Stewart‘s drums at an immediate strut.

Quick pause and they’re into the first verse of “Raven” — full blast in terms of tone, growl, crash and riff. The second cut on Murder feels a little more like the core Hollow Leg have developed and built on, but however they go, they go angry. Angelacos‘ unwavering gutturalism arrives in layers for the chorus (unless that’s Lynch backing him, which is possible), and the roll of the guitar, bass and drums behind him makes the song seem even shorter than its under-six-minute run actually is. Another shift takes place about halfway in, moving to chugging met with tom hits and a punctuating snare, eventually crashing in rhythm behind the vocals before returning to build yet more tension for the next round, from which they open up to a guitar lead and then chug their way out to finish, a kind of back and forth play working its way through efficiently measure by measure.

They’re not inexperienced with this sort of fare, but the clarity of purpose behind “Raven” and its subtle catchiness are further emblematic of just how tight Hollow Leg have become at this approach and how much they’ve made their sound their own over the course of this decade. That’s the main lesson their Murder EP (you’ll note the crows circling on the cover art): that even with the lineup change, they’re still very much able to bring together an offering that moves them stylistically forward from where they were even just a year ago while also reaffirming the underlying pissed-off sludge that’s been their righteous cause since they got going. Murder might be Hollow Leg testing the ground for a new lineup, and it might be an outlet for a studio experiment, but with the songwriting tenets they’ve developed over time, there was ultimately little chance it wasn’t going to work — and so it does.

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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