Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

Spillage on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore

 

Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

Mt. Echo on Thee Facebooks

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

 

Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp

 

Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

 

Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

Luna Sol on Thee Facebooks

Slush Fund Recordings webstore

 

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Torche Set July 12 Release for Admission; “Slide” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

torche (Photo by Keans Llamera)

So Torche have a new bassist in Eric Hernandez, who joins guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, guitarist Jon Nuñez (formerly bass) and drummer Rick Smith, for their fifth album, Admission. The record is due out July 12 on Relapse Records, and will be the follow-up to 2015’s Restarter (review here), which I really dug but seemed to catch internet-flack for being slower and not as maniacally upbeat as some of their past work. That’s something Nuñez seems to implicitly acknowledge below when he talks about the new lineup being more inspired and Hernandez being excited to be in the group. So it goes, I guess. I still thought that album was cool.

Torche of course have a bunch of tour dates to go with the release of Admission, and preorders are up and there’s the new single “Slide” playing below that you can dig into as well. So, uh, do that.

PR wire:

torche admission

TORCHE: Announce New Album Admission Coming July 12; Share First Single “Slide”

Miami’s heavy rock quartet TORCHE release Admission, the band’s fifth album, and first new music since 2015’s critically-lauded Restarter, on July 12 via Relapse Records.

“This album is more revealing of who we are. I think the core of the band is happier and more inspired than we have been in some time, and we’ve got somebody new who’s excited to be a part of it. It’s just refreshing. It feels right. It feels real,” says guitar player Jon Nuñez, referencing the band’s new line-up which includes a shift from bass to guitar for Nuñez and the addition of bass player Eric Hernandez (Wrong). Steve Brooks (guitar/vocals) and Rick Smith (drummer) round-out the band.

“Slide,” a new song from the Nuñez produced album, is streaming now. “’Slide’ is one of the first songs Eric came to the table with, fully realized and arranged,” explains Smith. “Eric is a total beast of a songwriter. I suggested he use the first three Gary Numan records as inspiration and he came back at us with some melodically sound material that nailed the Torche vibe.”

The new song arrives as Torche announce their first wave of tour dates, including performances at this year’s Levitation, The Fest and Sled Island festivals. Tickets for all non-festival dates are on-sale this Friday at 10 am eastern.

Admission pre-orders are available now via Relapse’s webstore (http://relapse.com/torche-admission/). Digital downloads and streaming services are available at http://ffm.to/torcheadmission.

Admission cover; artwork by Richard Vergez

Admission Tracklist:
From Here
Submission
Slide
What Was
Times Missing
Admission
Reminder
Extremes of Consciousness
On The Wire
Infierno
Changes Come

The 11-song album is available in various formats (CD/LP/CS/Digital) with several highly-limited colored vinyl options on-sale now. The album artwork was created by Richard Vergez, a Cuban-American visual artist, who is known for his handmade collages that highlight the meeting of human and technological elements in our modern society. His work has been shown at No Romance Galleries (TriBeCa), Urban Arts Society (Chicago) and Kids of Dada (London).

TORCHE Tour Dates:

May 31 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Doomed & Stoned Festival
June 15 – Denver, CO @ Electric Funeral Fest IV
June 19 – Calgary, AB @ Sled Island Festival
July 26 – Tampa, FL @ The Crowbar
July 27 – Jacksonville, FL @ The Justice Pub
July 28 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
July 29 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Golden Pony
July 31 – Washington, D.C. @ Black Cat
August 1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
August 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bazaar
August 3 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
August 4 – Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
August 5 – Hamden, CT @ Space Ballroom
August 6 – Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
August 7 – Wilmington, NC @ Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
August 8 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
August 9 – Orlando, FL @ Henao Center
August 10 – Miami, FL @ Las Rosa’s
September 21 – Asheville, NC @ Heavy Mountain
November 1 – Gainesville, FL @ FEST
November 9 – Austin, TX @ Levitation

torchemusic.com
facebook.com/torcheofficial
instagram.com/torche_band
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Torche, “Slide” official video

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Thunderclap to Release Debut Album Inebriocean March 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Florida has a well-established history in the ways and many forms of heavy and sludge, whether it’s Cavity or Hollow Leg or Holly Hunt or Shroud Eater, on and on. Gainesville’s Thunderclap will cast their lot in the swamp at the end of next month with the release of their debut album, Inebriocean. Set to issue through Financial Ruin, which makes the three-piece labelmates to recent tour compatriots Meatwound, the seven-track outing is heralded by a teaser trailer you can see below, and listening to it in comparison to the band’s 2014 debut EP, The Moon Leads — also streaming below, because what the hell, I was on their Bandcamp anyway — the production sounds clearer, the vocals more confident and the underlying punkishness is maintained. What one might expect, in other words, with an ensuing five years of growth along a stated path.

Not that a teaser stands in for the whole album or anything, but it’s relatively safe to think it’s at least giving a basic idea. They’re new to me, but I thought it sounded cool, so here’s the info and whatnot from the PR wire:

Thunderclap (photo by Dan Shook)

THUNDERCLAP: Florida Doom/Rock Trio Prepares For March Release Of Inebriocean Debut LP Via Financial Ruin; Album Trailer Posted

Gainesville, Florida-based THUNDERCLAP will release their debut LP, Inebriocean, through Financial Ruin this March. The label has issued the track listing, and a brief trailer for the album.

Smoothly melding elements of metal and classic rock into a thick layer of swampy southern groove and doom, THUNDERCLAP’s output a far cry from its members other/former acts. The trio’s members, Todd Rockhill, Ale Gasso, and Danny Welsh, have collectively played with Discount, Army Of Ponch, The Draft, Unitas, J.Page, House On Fire, Black Cougar Shock Unit, and many others through the years before this act.

THUNDERCLAP combines poetry and music with different movements, tones and emotions wrapped together to create a complete experience for listeners rather than just the average one-dimensional song. Breaking away from the traditional hardcore that permeated the scene at the time, they added layers of visual and conceptual feeling to the dark, heavy music which they felt properly reflected what they were feeling inside.

Inebriocean is a journey, combining songs of varying lengths, moods and genres in order to replicate the true experience of life and art. The album’s seven lush tunes boast attributes of classic Southern rock and modern doom metal in a seamless blend of empowering riffs and emotive atmospheres. With additional vocals on the track “47” by Rachel Ryder, Inebriocean was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ryan Williams at Black Bear Studios in Gainesville, and completed with cover art by Ted Lincoln.

See a brief trailer for THUNDERCLAP’s Inebriocean RIGHT HERE.

Financial Ruin will release Inebriocean on LP and digital platforms on March 29th, with distribution through Dead Tank Records. Watch for track premieres, preorders, and more to be issued in the coming days.

Inebriocean Track Listing:
1. Intro
2. Inebriocean
3. Low End
4. Capsized
5. 47
6. Black Crow Horizon
7. Breach

Following their Florida tour dates with Meatwound in December, THUNDERCLAP is booking new performances surrounding the release of their debut album. Watch for tour dates, a record release show, and other performances to be issued in the days ahead.

Todd Rockhill and Danny Welsh originally formed THUNDERCLAP as a two piece in 2012, a time when Gainesville really didn’t have many heavy local bands. They aimed to fill that gap – to create the music they loved. Their music was influenced by metal bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath mixed with the down-tuned riffage of sludgy bands like Floor and Cavity. After a few songs were written, Rockhill was working on lyrics when he came upon a book of poems by Ale Gasso. Her dark poems fit the mood of the band and soon were set perfectly to the music. Bassist Jerome Goodman was added to the mix and they released their first record, The Moon Leads, in 2014. Gasso joined as guitarist shortly thereafter. When life took Goodman in a different direction, the band dropped the bass from their lineup and has remained sans-bass trio since, into the creation of their latest album and first LP, Inebriocean.

THUNDERCLAP:
Todd Rockhill – guitar, bass, vocals, piano
Ale Gasso – guitar, vocals
Danny Welsh – drums

https://www.facebook.com/ThunderclapGVL
https://thunderclap666.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.financial-ruin.com
http://financialruin.storenvy.com
https://financialruin.bandcamp.com

Thunderclap, Inebriocean album trailer

Thunderclap, The Moon Leads (2014)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Hollow Leg, Civilizations

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg civilizations

[Click play above to stream Hollow Leg’s Civilizations in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 25 on Argonauta Records.]

Hollow Leg‘s fourth album, Civilizations, brings the Floridian sludge-plus outfit past the 10-year mark since getting together in 2008, and as their first new release for Argonauta Records following a reissue of 2016’s Crown (review here) that combined it with the subsequent 2017 EP, Murder (review here), it brings their sound to previously-untouched levels of breadth. And the more one looks back over their four records, the clearer it becomes that’s been the case all along. Their 2010 debut, Instinct (discussed here), and its 2013 follow-up, Abysmal (review here), set a tone in raw sludge metal aggression, with a largesse of groove and the enviable roar of Scott Angelacos‘ growling vocals. But even then there was a progression happening from one to the next, and Civilizations is the furthest point yet along the line those early outings started.

It isn’t every band who can claim to still be moving forward a decade later, but Angelacos, guitarist/backing vocalist Brent Lynch, bassist Tom Crowther and drummer John Stewart (who came aboard for the last album), continue a process of becoming with Civilizations that finds them still holding to the nastiness of their roots but finding new footing as well on yet-uncovered ground in terms of arrangements, cleaner vocals, more melodic leads, and on the not-actually-an-intro “Intro,” a gong. All of this — even the gong — makes the nine-track/43-minute long-player unquestionably the most accomplished work of Hollow Leg‘s career, and listening to the Clutch-style patterning in “Akasha” and the chanting backups and floating guitar solo in the back end of the earlier “Dirt Womb,” the conscious intent to try new ways of composing and executing their material is made plain. They always have been and still are an aggressive band, in tone, rhythm and construction, but they’ve never sounded as dynamic as they do on Civilizations and even a piece like the relatively straightforward and suitably biting “Hunter and the Hunted” conveys the growth they’ve so confidently undertaken.

As to whether or not Civilizations marks how far Hollow Leg will go, it’s not a question that can be answered with any certainty until they put out something else, but there’s no doubt it’s the most realized work they’ve done, setting its terms quickly on the 7:11 opener “Litmus,” which begins with Stewart‘s drums beating a march soon joined by feedback and the foreboding central riff. Immediately the album wants to challenge its audience, and it does so by unfurling the first of its choice, rolling grooves that engages in a fashion somewhat contrary to the name they’ve given it. Angelacos‘ bellow arrives about two minutes in and is in fine form — raw of throat but able to evoke a notion of melody as he demands; a correct argument against those prejudiced to harsh vocal approaches — and as the band rolls fluidly through the midpoint of the track, the sense of patience is subtle but indicative of the build happening.

Stewart gets the cowbelling out of the way as “Litmus” works through its apex prior to echoing out on residual swirling noise, and “Dirt Womb” and “Mountains of Stone” pick up to complete a compelling opening salvo that presents much of what’s in store as the album continues, whether in the aforementioned airy solo of “Dirt Womb” — the band cite a Cave In influence, and one can hear it there — or the way in which “Mountains of Stone” moves through its verse and chorus structure en route to a hypnotic but quiet finish. That serves as a lead-in for the two-minute “Black Moon,” which pairs clean-sung lines directly with Lynch‘s open-sounding guitar, as well as percussion and an earthy psychedelia that, as just the shortest track on Civilizations, shows how much Hollow Leg have added to their reach throughout. As might be expected, it leads to the intense beginning of “Hunter and the Hunted,” but even the push there is affected by the atmosphere brought to bear in “Black Moon,” and the same holds true as side B of Civilizations takes hold.

Tracks are arranged longest-to-shortest leading into “Hunter and the Hunted,” and shortest-to-longest after, so its place is obviously no mistake, and in that way, the subsequent “Intro” may indeed be leading the way into the second half of Civilizations, but it’s still more substantial than tagging it an “intro” might convey. Rather, it seems a weighted complement to “Black Moon,” pushing the growled vocals deeper into the mix to make the guitar and bass sound all the more consuming, and while it doesn’t play through a complete verse-chorus structure, there’s still plenty going on as it shifts into “Chimera,” which likewise answers the hook of “Mountains of Stone” with one of its own, tapping into Southern metal riffing in a way Hollow Leg seem largely to hold at arm’s length, and making use of backing shouts to add flourish to the arrangement.

“Chimera” is perhaps meaner than “Mountains of Stone,” but similar in its overarching intent unto its last push, which cuts to silence quickly to let the initial feedback of “Akasha” take hold prior to unfolding a particularly satisfying nod in its early going while giving Lynch room for some exploration later on. Is it correspondingly parallel to “Dirt Womb?” Maybe. At very least it can be read that way, but it also has an ambience of its own as it comes apart at the end and closes with a brief swell of noise as a transition into the finale and longest track, “Exodus” — no less a purposeful title than was “Litmus.” At 7:54, “Exodus” is the longest song on Civilizations and showcases a longer-form of work that surfaced on Crown and here finds a balance with the more grounded structures. As Angelacos seems to be telling the story of leaving earth behind presumably after having fubar’ed it to such a degree, the swinging rhythm leads the way into a layered solo and a vague spoken part/sample that marks a final return to the chorus and an ending on guitar that answers not only that of “Litmus,” but “Akasha” as well.

And it’s not really until it’s over that one gets the sense of just how complete Civilizations is, how much it’s not just a collection of songs, but a purposeful, full-album execution. It may be the work Hollow Leg have been building toward, and it certainly sounds in the present like a culmination of their efforts, but hearing “Blue Moon” and the greater depths to their arrangements generally, there’s nothing to indicate in these tracks that the band will stagnate from here. They’ve worked on an every-three-years pace since 2010 — that is, albums in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019 — so we’ll probably cross into the 2020s before hearing from them again, but even as Hollow Leg recount a troubled course of humanity, they give hope for the future of their own making.

Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks

Hollow Leg on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

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Beerwolf Premiere “Magick Warbird” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

beerwolf

Color! — That seems to be the underlying message of Beerwolf‘s new video for the penultimate track of their Ripple Music debut album, Planetfall. “Magick Warbird” sees guitarist Matthew Howland and drummer AJ Prasad hanging around all casual-like by some electrical meters — as one does — when bassist/vocalist Jason Kleim rolls up with a bag full of mushrooms. Written on said ziplock in big ol’ letters is, of course, the title of the song. From there, the track takes off with a performance clip shot like a classic promotional video, the band coming in and out of focus while surrounded by bright colors and some basic special effects, trails and whatnot. It’s good fun.

The song itself is more grounded, at least in construction. Like much of Planetfall before it, it’s a straightforward rocker based around a strong chorus with a steady, laid back vibe and a tonal warmth derived from a classic heavy rock influence. Some of Planetfall‘s tracks, like “Eagle Shirt” after the opening instrumental title-cut or “Crom’s Steel” would seem to be well aware of the audience to whom they’re speaking, but if it’s to the converted, that hardly makes the preach of “Haze Arcane” or the fuzz-overdosed “Serpentine Fiend” any less righteous. With the jammier, open spirit of the eight-minute “Hunters of Night” on side A seeming to bridge a gap between labelmates Freedom Hawk and more psychedelic fare, Beerwolf set up the vaster reaches of the closing “Epilogue,” an instrumental bookend to “Planetfall” itself that conjures slower pacing and tripped-out effects to cap the record with its farthest cosmic reach.

That blend of the straightforward and the, well, not, helps add breadth to what Beerwolf do in terms of songwriting, but again, the bulk of Planetfall makes its impression through traditionalist songcraft, verse/chorus-style, and through the performances of Kleim, Howland and Prasad as presented with the naturalist production. If you want to get a sampling of that in a sub-five-minute clip that, again, has your full daily allowance of color — sorry, but the rest of your afternoon will have to be grayscale — hit up “Magick Warbird” below and enjoy the good times.

PR wire whatnot follows:

Beerwolf, “Magick Warbird” official video premiere

Beerwolf on “Magick Warbird:

“We’ve always dug the pioneer days of rock ’n’ roll visuals, the fuzzy psychedelia of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and the like. We wanted to create our own version of that, something you could enjoy knee deep in the peak of an acid trip. ‘Magick Warbird’ is about freedom from tyranny so it only made sense to style it as a call back to the counter-culture movements that inspired us.”

The trio of troublemakers from Tampa known as Beerwolf ingest a few too many mushrooms and take us on a wild and colorful journey with “Magick Warbird”, from their album “Planetfall” (released digitally by the band in 2017 and physically by Ripple Music in 2018).

Originally self-released last October, the album quickly came to Ripple Music’s attention, largely via cult commendations from fans, players and followers alike across the online community. And now, thanks to the solid appreciation of those at Ripple Music they will have that rare second chance to make a killer first impression, on a grander stage and to a wider audience.

BEERWOLF:
Jason Kleim – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Matthew Howland – Guitar
AJ Prasad – Drums

Beerwolf, Planetfall (2017/2018)

Beerwolf on Thee Facebooks

Beerwolf on Twitter

Beerwolf on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Hollow Leg Set Jan. 25 Release Date for Civilizations; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

The only reason I’m not listening to the new Hollow Leg album as I type this is because the internet connection I’m on is too shitty to stream or download the thing. It’s called Civilizations, it’s their fourth album, and as always, I’m looking forward to digging into it as soon as humanly possible. Or technologically possible. You know what I mean. I’ve got a tab open with the promo. It’s there, mocking me.

Civilizations of course follows on the heels of the special edition release of their Crown (review here) album that also included their Murder EP (review here) and thereby served as their debut on Argonauta Records. The new one, then, is their second through the Italian label, and they’ve already been playing new songs live, as on tour last month with Witchkiss. Seems only fair to expect more dates for early next year sometime near the release. These guys have never really been shy about getting out.

Here’s word from the PR wire about the album and the preorder link:

hollow leg civilizations

Hollow Leg – Civilizations – Jan. 25

Called an “enormously toned groove engine,” Hollow Leg’s train just keeps a’ rollin.’ Now on the eve of their fourth full-length release since 2010, the band is poised for national notoriety. Civilizations features nine tracks of sludge vitriol akin to Crowbar, Weedeater, and Eyehategod. The album will be available Jan 25th 2019 via Argonauta Records.

Hollow Leg is the sort of demented sludge behemoth that makes the faint of heart tremble and shake. Having emerged from the Florida swamps, this isn’t just another heavy band trying to suck at the teat of a bloated scene. Rather these Psycho Las Vegas veterans have made a name for themselves as weathered professionals, both on the road and in the studio. Blending American blues with English heavy metal, Hollow Leg have refined a sound that is colored with the influences of everyone from Janes Addiction and Faith No More to Eyehategod by way of Judas Priest.

Hollow Leg have been methodical in their tour approach and consistent with their recorded output. This January will see the release of Civilizations on Argonauta Records, the band’s fourth album in eight years and third studio release since 2016. The group recorded it all in their own studio and self produced, eventually being mixed and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat. With huge ambitions and deep roots, Hollow Leg have found themselves playing multiple Maryland Doom Fests.

Cranking out crushing riffs left and right in the nations seedy dive bars as well as alongside titans like Amon Amarth and Enslaved, this band is a veritable train kept a’ rollin’. Unafraid to evolve, having even shifted from being a duo to a four piece, this is a group who constantly push for bigger and better things. Greater than the sum of their parts and constantly expanding their sound, Hollow Leg have the drive and ambition needed to become lords of the stoner metal underground.

Pre-order here: http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/home/306-hollow-leg-civilizations-lp-cd.html

https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl
https://twitter.com/hollowlegfl
https://www.instagram.com/hollow_legfl/
https://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Hollow Leg, Murder EP (2017)

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Northern Crown Announce Self-Titled Album out Oct. 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

northern crown

Floridian doomers Northern Crown made their debut with The Others two years ago and I was reading the press release below and trying to figure out why I never reviewed the record. It was the cover art that gave me a bummer vibe. Well, the art for their new one, which is self-titled, set for release on Oct. 12 and which features a cover of My Dying Bride‘s “Your River” from 1993’s classic Turn Loose the Swans, is a zeppelin flying over a dusty and scratched out landscape. I’m not going to read into it too hard beyond “blimps are fun,” and yes, that’s a personal choice I’m making.

They don’t have any audio out from the new full-length as yet, but October is a ways away — though not nearly as much of a ways as it feels like it should be in my feeble brain — so one assumes there’s some forthcoming. The blimp-y art and the tracklisting and other details have made their way out, though, and you’ll find them all below, courtesy of the PR wire:

northern crown northern crown

U.S. Doom Lords NORTHERN CROWN Releasing Self-Titled Sophomore Album October 12

U.S. Doom Lords NORTHERN CROWN will release their self-titled sophomore album on October 12. The band has sharpened the approach on the forthcoming full-length, combining more dirty rock organ and chunky guitar riffs with their trademark doom-isms. Following up on their debut album The Others, their self-titled sophomore release maintains the smoke and mirrors of the first EP In The Hands of The Betrayer but leans more in the direction of the first record and the band’s oldest rock influences – DIO, RAINBOW, DEEP PURPLE, and BLACK SABBATH.

NORTHERN CROWN handled mixing on their own again, but brought in the mastering talents of Tony Lindgren from Sweden’s Fascination Street Studios (Witchcraft, Enslaved, Amorphis) for the final touches. Artwork by prolific artist Travis Smith (Opeth, Katatonia, Death) captures the album’s winding atmosphere, rounding out the release.

Reflecting the uncertainty of the dark times we exist in at the moment, Northern Crown tackles the difficult subject of how well we really know ourselves and how that shapes what we do and become. Echoing their previous releases’ indulgent 10-minute+ epics, the track, “The Desert and The Wind,” nods to the prog-heads, while the band also includes a glowing tribute to My Dying Bride with a full cover of “Your River.” The record also introduces a lineup change, with vocalist and guitarist Frank Serafine handling drums. Weaponlord’s mighty Leona Hayward returns on bass, backing Zachary Randall’s guitar alchemy and harsh vocals. Solos from Nightfall/Dark Hound lead shred-monster Evan Hensley punctuate the record.

Northern Crown will be available on CD and Digital Formats at https://doommet.al

Track List

1. I Am Your Slave
2. Merciless, They Let You Suffer
3. Forged from Nothing
4. Chasing the Sun
5. The Desert and the Wind
6. Righteous & Pure
7. By Demons Bidden
8. Your River

Northern Crown is:
Zachary Randall – Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Lead and Backing Vocals
Frank R. Serafine – Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar, Drums
Leona Hayward – Bass

Additional Performers:
Evan Hensley – Lead Guitar

https://doommet.al
facebook.com/NorthernCrownDoom/
https://twitter.com/NrthrnCrownDoom
https://music.northerncrownband.com/

Northern Crown, The Others (2016)

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Hollow Leg & Witchkiss Touring in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hollow leg

witchkiss

Last time I heard from Florida’s Hollow Leg, it was this Spring when they announced they’d begun work on their next record. I don’t know what their recording process is like off the top of my head, but I’m going to guess that the album is probably done. Since they’re teamed up with New York’s Witchkiss to tour their way out to Doomed and Stoned Fest in Indianapolis — where Hollow Leg are set to play Oct. 6 — and back eastward after, and since Witchkiss‘ 2018 album is called The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes, and since the tour is called “The Austere Civilizations Tour,” I’ll further guess that not only is the new Hollow Leg record done, but the title in some way involves the word “civilizations.” Maybe that’s all it’s called. I don’t know, folks, these are just guesses.

If you’re looking for harder news, well, there’s the tour dates for starters. They’re right here, as per the PR wire:

hollow leg witchkiss tour

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS ANNOUNCE TOUR

HOLLOW LEG and WITCHKISS are pleased to announce that they will be teaming up for a short East/Mid-western tour of the United States this fall. The tour will also include a stop at the Doomed and Stoned festival in Indianapolis. (Hollow Leg only)

Hollow Leg commented “Hollow Leg are really looking forward to this upcoming run with our labelmates in Witchkiss as well as appearance at this year’s Doomed and Stoned fest! Cities like Chicago we’ve been looking to play for a while and our festival appearance is giving us a chance to get there this time around.”

Witchkiss further commented “We are super stoked to be doing this run with Hollow Leg in early October. Getting to play with our Argonauta labelmates who’s music we love in all of these new cities is a dream come true! We might even be playing a new song for y’all too!”

More information can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/295316921230835/

HOLLOW LEG/WITCHKISS AUSTERE CIVILIZATIONS TOUR DATES
Oct. 3rd – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge
Oct. 4th – Memphis, TN @ Growler’s
Oct. 5th – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
Oct. 6th – Indianapolis, IN @ Doomed and Stoned Fest (HL only)
Oct. 6th Canton, OH @Buzzbin (Witchkiss only)
Oct. 7th – Charlottesville, VA @ Golden Pony
Oct. 8th – Baltimore, MD @ The Depot
Oct. 9th – Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
Oct 12th- Richmond, VA @Wonderland (Witchkiss only)

https://www.facebook.com/hollowlegfl
https://hollowleg666.bandcamp.com/

http://facebook.com/witchkissband
https://witchkiss.bandcamp.com/

www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Hollow Leg, Murder (2017)

Witchkiss, The Austere Curtains of Our Eyes (2018)

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