Mars Red Sky Release Myramyd Vinyl-Only EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

This weekend, as France’s Mars Red Sky take the stage at their country’s largest heavy festival, Hellfest, they’ll do so with a new EP release in tow. Myramyd is comprised of one 17-minute mostly instrumental track (there are some choral-type vocals) on one side of a 12″ vinyl with an etching on the other side. There’s no download code, no streaming version (I asked), no digital master, nothing. It’s true vinyl-only and limited in number. They’re doing 500 of them and then that’s it. I expect they’ll be gone quickly.

They’ll have a special edition on-hand at Hellfest of 200 numbered copies, and yeah, they’ll go too. You can see the release details below, and the EP is available to order now at Mars Red Sky‘s webstore. Unless you’re at a show, that’s the only place to get it.

Dig:

mars-red-sky-myramyd

MARS RED SKY – !!! NEW EP VINYL !!! MYRAMYD EP – 2017

MYRAMYD EP (out June 17th 2017 )

– Myramyd EP – 12″ / 180gr – 500 Copies Limited – out June 17th 2017
– Only 1 Song of 17 minutes on Side A / Etched Vinyl on side B
– Performed, recorded & mixed live direct to 2-track analog tape machine at La Nef – Angoulême (Fr) on April 11, 2017.
– All 500 copies will come with an colour insert (see picture) + 1 Poster + goodies
– 200 copies of the 500 will be numbered and will come with a special 2nd insert / silkscreen at the Hellfest / available here and deliver at the hellfest only or on any shows after Hellfest 2017 / be careful when you order / Hellfest version is in the bundle !
– No digital mastering = No download code !
– Artwork and layout by Carlos Olmo

SPECIAL HELLFEST ED. BUNDLE EXTRA GOODIES (200 copies only) :
– These special 200 copies will be numbered and will come with a special extra Silkscreen of 30cm*30cm / 2 colors as a second insert (Artwork by Arrache Toi un Oeil)
– It will comes in a red Tote Bag (Cobra Design) and with a lot of goodies (1 Magnet, 1 Poster and 1 picks !!!)

Available at: http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com

Mars Red Sky live:
Jun 17 Hellfest Clisson, France
Jun 24 Rock In Bourlon Bourlon, France
Jul 21 Raut-Oak Festival Riegsee, Germany
Jul 30 Xtreme Fest Albi, France
Aug 05 Sylak Open Air Saint-Maurice-De-Gourdans, France

http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com
http://www.marsredsky.net/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://www.marsredsky.net
http://www.twitter.com/MarsRedSky1
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Mars Red Sky, “Under the Hood” official video

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The Necromancers Premiere “Black Marble House” Video; Servants of the Salem Girl Due Aug. 18 on Ripple Music

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the-necromancers-photo-maya-c

French four-piece The Necromancers have set an Aug. 18 release for their debut album, Servants of the Salem Girl, via respected purveyor Ripple Music, and even if it’s about witches, they manage to avoid many of the trappings of modern cult rock. To wit, they sound like neither the garage doom of Uncle Acid nor the retrofied boogie of Graveyard — and when it comes to what we’ve come to associate with cult rock, those are two considerable monoliths to avoid (even though Graveyard are just about in no way a cult rock band). The track “Black Marble House,” for which you can see a new video premiering below, is my first exposure to the Poitiers-based outfit, and it finds their sound modern, heavy, fuzzy and deceptively straightforward given their purported lyrical thematic.

One might be tempted to call that incongruity were it not for the obvious core of songwriting on display beneath the crisp production of “Black Marble House,” which allows The Necromancers to immediately take the track where they please, adding a gruff edge of aggression to the hook as they shove through the five-plus minutes over which they tell this portion of a story that, presumably, takes place over the course of the album as a whole. August is a ways off, and I haven’t heard the entirety of Servants of the Salem Girl as yet — and that’s not me being coy; I actually haven’t heard it — but as an introduction to what The Necromancers might proffer at least in part sonically throughout, “Black Marble House” piques interest and at very least gives those who’d take it on a chorus to have stuck in their head until more info and/or audio arrives.

The band offered some insight on the song and how it plays into the full record, which you’ll find under the player here along with the credits and other whatnot.

Please enjoy:

The Necromancers, “Black Marble House” official video

The Necromancers on “Black Marble House”:

“‘Black Marble House’ is the first song we recorded as a demo, and when we shot the video (which tells a witch hunt that goes wrong for the Witchfinder), we mostly wanted to release something that could illustrate the whole album we were working on, Servants of the Salem Girl. The ‘Salem Girl’ is a presence who haunts all our songs, taking different names, symbolising different things, but always floating around. It was important to us to have something not just based on the lyrics of ‘Black Marble House.'”

Taken from THE NECROMANCERS’ debut album ‘Servants Of The Salem Girl” out on Ripple Music on August 18th.’

Directed and edited by Tom Cornière-David.
Filmed by Pauline Foeillet.
Starring : Marie Besiat, Antoine Alonso, Hugo Pravia, Andolin Vermillet & The Necromancers.

The Necromancers are:
Rob – Lead Guitar
Tom – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Simon – Bass Guitar
Ben – Drums

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The Necromancers on YouTube

Ripple Music website

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Abrahma to Record New Album this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Prog-tinged Parisian heavy rockers Abrahma have announced their intention to enter the studio this fall to record their third full-length. It’ll be in October with the release itself following in 2018. Their last outing, 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here), offered a significantly expanded sonic palette from its likewise-cumbersomely-titled 2012 predecessor, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here), and the four-piece will no doubt look to move forward this time out as well.

So that’s this October. Last time we heard from the band was last October, as it happens, and at that point guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Sebastien Bismuth and guitarist Nicolas Heller, were welcoming bassist Guillaume Theoden and drummer Sacha Viken to the Abrahma lineup and setting to work on the record, the tentative name for which was given as In Time for the Last Rays of Light. In the update that follows here, Bismuth doesn’t use that name or any other, so it may well be that they’ve opted for something else or a final decision has yet to be made in that regard.

Still, progress is progress, and it’s good to know work has continued on the outing, whatever it winds up being called when it’s done. Here’s what Bismuth had to say on the subject:

abrahma

ABRAHMA will enter ORGONE STUDIOS in October with Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Cathedral, Ghost, Pallbearer,..) to record our third album.

This new album will go a little bit far away from what we’ve done before. We have added many influences we were scared to add on our previous works. We’ll have been through difficult times those last years and we have chosen to use music to heal our wounds…

The result needed to enlarge our influences and the addition of Sacha Viken and Guillaume Theoden made it all really natural. We can’t wait to share those new songs with you!

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.smallstone.com

Abrahma, “Witchdoctor Woman” (Nazareth cover)

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Witchthroat Serpent Premiere “Striped Dragon”

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

witchthroat serpent

French doomers Witchthroat Serpent will release their new single Striped Dragon on June 15 through Svart Records. That makes it just in time for the Toulouse three-piece to hit the road for a week of dates mostly in Germany but also with stops in Belgium and France as well as they continue to support their 2016 sophomore outing, Sang-Dragon. “Striped Dragon,” which premieres today on the player below, is one of two outlier tracks included on the 300-copy 7″ pressing that was recorded at the same time as the album but ultimately held back, and given the shift from gritty and raw doom to more psychedelic roll, one can understand why. As much as cuts like “A Caw Rises from My Guts” or “Siberian Mist” brought garage swirl to post-Electric Wizard doom, that record was much more about crushing skulls than expanding the minds held within them. It’s a question of intent.

And when it comes to intent, Witchthroat Serpent‘s is — on one release or the other — clearly geared toward darkness. From itswitchthroat serpent striped dragon hey-check-it-out-it’s-a-naked-chick-with-horns cover art to the 90 seconds-plus of feedback that leads the way into “Striped Dragon” itself, the new single brims with a rough-hewn psychedelic atmosphere. It’s a trip, but it’s a bleak trip, and that minute and a half of feedback isn’t simply wasted time when it comes to setting the ambience for the groove that follows. Pushed forward by drummer Niko Lass with the raw fuzz of Lo Klav‘s bass as its foundation, “Striped Dragon” complements Fredrik Bolzann‘s buzzsaw guitar tone and cleaner-but-still-shouted vocals with a persistent line of organ, which not only distinguishes the song from the album that otherwise might’ve surrounded it, but ties it aesthetically to both modern cultism and classic heavy rock in a subtle but resonant fashion.

Structurally simple, “Striped Dragon” plows through its verses on the back of said elements and at the end of its sub-six-minute run feels somewhat short in a manner that might lead one to immediately flip the platter over and take on the B-side — all the more effective as a single, then. And, since most of Sang-Dragon‘s pressings have completely sold through at this point, all the better to give Witchthroat Serpent something new to take on the road in the coming weeks. One wonders if highlighting this side of their approach might lead the band to incorporate such a wider sonic berth to their next long-player, but I think we probably have a bit to go before we find out one way or the other.

In the meantime, you can check out “Striped Dragon” on the player below, followed by more info courtesy of Svart‘s preorder page, which is here.

Please enjoy:

After their acclaimed second LP “Sang Dragon” (2016), Witchthroat Serpent continue to blaze their own path in the most powerful manner possible. “Striped Dragon” is not merely an addendum; it is a fierce metallic onslaught of occult psychedelia, strong enough to stand on its own.

Recorded live at Drudenhaus Studio during the “Sang-Dragon” sessions, this new 7?EP reveals an even more radical side of the doom shamans. These two exclusive tracks push the band’s sound into a new territory. Fierce and mind-warping, riddled with fuzzy hammering riffs and ever groovier pounding, it’s a mean follow-up to their previous sonic excursions.

“Striped Dragon” is presented in a deluxe gatefold cover, a carefully-crafted work of art by Branca Studio. This piece is limited to 300 copies and is a one-time pressing.

Available on: 15.6.2017

WITCHTHROAT SERPENT “RISING SUN TOUR” June 2017:
19/06 BE Antwerpen “Kid’s Kaffee”
20/06 GER Berlin “Tiefgrund”
21/06 GER Dresden “Ostpol”
22/06 GER Leipzig “Black label Pub”
23/06 GER Nuremberg “Kunstverein”
24/06 GER Munich “St Helena Festival”
25/06 FR Paris “Dr Feelgood”

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Witchthroat Serpent on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

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Review & Full EP Stream: Decasia, The Lord is Gone

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

decasia the lord is gone

[Click play above to stream Decasia’s The Lord is Gone EP in its entirety. It’s out tomorrow, May 5, on More Fuzz Records.]

Parisian heavy psych rockers Decasia make their first offering through countryman imprint More Fuzz Records with The Lord is Gone. Preceded by a pair of digital singles over the last year-plus, it’s also their second short release behind a 2015 self-titled (review here), though honestly, the thing is 33 minutes long and if you wanted to make the case for it as a three-song full-length, I don’t think I’d be inclined to argue. That was much the case with their last outing as well, though, and it stems as much from the flow the trio of guitarist/vocalist Maxime Richard, bassist Fabien Proust and drummer Geoffrey Riberry conjure across the two-sided salvo of extended pieces “Eden” (9:45), “Sun Kingdom” (9:25) and “The Ancient” (14:22), as about the runtime itself. Recorded analog, their material is pointedly organic in its construction and delivery, yet comes across as more than a simple collection of jams. No question that’s what’s at root — one can hear it from the opening roll and rumble of “Eden” as the guitar feedbacks its own introduction alongside — but Decasia are building songs from that foundation, not simply leaving parts to hit their listener in raw form succession, one after the next as whim dictates.

That’s not to take anything away from the sphere of European heavy psych jammers out there — there are many, and they do good work — just to say that Decasia are on a different trip, taking cues from coherent heavy psychedelic songcraft that holds true to a languid vibe as it makes its way into and through the verses of “Eden,” toying with drift and crunch in like measure, playing loud and quiet stretches off each other and letting the low end and the drums hold together instrumental passages that let the guitar wander into and out of leads or riff out as best fits where they are in the track. By the time RichardProust and Riberry are about five minutes in — there’s a break in “Eden” where Proust‘s gloriously fuzzed tone takes full hold; it’s not to be missed — the mood is set for much of what the release as a whole will move toward: a sound thick with presence but still bright in its overall feel, more validating than down, and with enough built-in motion that when Decasia decide it’s time to move into more shimmering territory momentarily or to start a build like that which leads into the apex of “Eden” before the track ends with a quiet final verse and last-second measure of push, they’re able to make these turns gracefully, without bringing the entirety of The Lord is Gone down on their own heads.

decasia

With a fading-in march of tom roll from Riberry, “Sun Kingdom” briefly teases a more intense thrust before nestling into another open, echoing verse. There is a more jagged feel as the track progresses, thanks to starts and stops in the riff, and the drums hold to some of their initial tension, but even when Decasia seem like they’re about to let “Sun Kingdom” completely boil over — first at around the 2:30 mark — they instead maintain their control and direct the song into a driven section of push-riffing that leads to a spacious psychedelic solo from Richard, brief but effective in adding to the atmosphere before the vocals resume. Then it’s time to get heavy. A stop and quick vocal line brings about a section of dense crash and thud, Proust‘s bass no less essential in thickening these proceedings than it was “Eden,” and when they make their return to the hook of “Sun Kingdom,” the attitude of the execution has changed, so that the contrast between the earthbound and the ethereal in the song — and make no mistake, those are the two sides playing out — is starker than on the opener, the track overall seeming less patient as it moves through its sixth minute, just waiting to take off again, which of course it does into a doomier roll at about 6:40, leading to another air-toned lead, a stop and then a surprising shift in tempo just past 7:45 that brings a faster ending section about that will consume the remaining runtime in a burst of energy that, as it turns out, is what all that back and forth was moving toward all along.

Because they sort of blindside the listener with that end part in “Sun Kingdom,” it’s a little more difficult to predict where Decasia might ultimately go with closer “The Ancient,” and that’s clearly the intent. As they weave their way through, the band effectively reinforce the atmosphere of the first two tracks through a consistency of approach and tone, but more over, they expand the scope as well, pushing the boundaries they’ve thus far established on both ends — the heavy and the psych. “The Ancient” is arguably the most of both. It doesn’t move as fast at its most forward as did the capstone movement of “Sun Kingdom,” but it hits a similar energy level circa four minutes in. Then it uses that as a launch-point to move into an ultra-liquefied psychedelic jam — broad minimalism the likes of which simply can’t be found anywhere else on The Lord is Gone; more patient than “Eden” and marked out by cymbal washes and echoing tom stomp from Riberry. They bring in an acoustic strum behind Richard‘s vocals and eventually make their way back toward electrified fare, returning to full-fuzz-push at 11:10 or so as “The Ancient” hits its crescendo and shifts back into its dream-toned, thoughtful last verse to end out on a sweet line of standalone guitar. All of that movement only stands to emphasize the fluidity Decasia accomplish throughout The Lord is Gone, which befitting the watery theme of their artwork does seem to be their greatest sonic asset — but I wouldn’t count out the progression of their songcraft either. The bottom line is that if they’re pitching these three tracks as an EP, one can only wonder what level of immersion awaits when they finally get around to a debut long-player.

Decasia in the studio for The Lord is Gone

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Decasia on Bandcamp

More Fuzz Records on Thee Facebooks

More Fuzz Records on Bandcamp

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Video Premiere: Mars Red Sky, “Under the Hood”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

It took me a while — I’m talking a couple of months of steady listening — but I was eventually able to make it through the ending of this track without tearing up. “Under the Hood” comes from Mars Red Sky‘s 2016 full-length, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). The progression of the Bordeaux trio’s third outing nestles it between the crushing roll of “Mindreader” and the free-swinging “Friendly Fire,” but it’s an unmistakable highlight and emotional apex for the record — a wounded love song executed in a heavy psychedelic context. Amid one of the most gorgeous melodies the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/backing vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau have to-date conjured, the impression “Under the Hood” makes is nothing short of stunning and, at least for me, it’s moving enough to get choked up by listening.

I’ve covered these guys a lot in the six years since they released their self-titled debut (review here), and it’s been a thrill to watch them take shape as the progressive, far-reaching outfit they’ve become in that time, but you’ll have to take my word for it when I say I’m singly honored to premiere this video. I genuinely love this song.

Mars Red Sky aren’t wasting any time moving forward from Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul). Though they’ve toured steadily since it came out — including a stop last year in Brooklyn to headline The Obelisk All-Dayer (video here) — and have more dates lined up this Spring and Summer highlighted by Desertfest Berlin and Hellfest, etc., they also announced last month that work has begun on a new experimental single-song EP that will hopefully be ready for issue as we move into the warmer months. The plan as I understand it is a limited, physical-only release, and though it remains to be seen whether or not it will tie into their next long-player the way 2016’s Providence (review here) set the stage for Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), as a fan of the band, I can’t wait to hear what immersive weirdness they come up with this time around.

More on that when I hear it, and in the meantime, here’s the clip for “Under the Hood,” which adopts footage from 1983’s Chronopolis, followed by Mars Red Sky‘s upcoming live dates and more info off the PR wire.

I hope you enjoy:

Mars Red Sky, “Under the Hood” official video

“Under The Hood” is taken off MARS RED SKY’s third album “APEX III (Praise For The Burning Soul)”, released in February 2016 on Listenable Records. The video was put together and edited by Geoffrey Torres, Jimmy Kinast and Colin Manierka, and features mages from 1983 sci-fi movie “Chronopolis” by Piotr Kamler.

The band also announced the release of a brand new track, coming out in June as a very limited 12’’EP only available through the band’s store. This 19-minute exclusive song was recorded live on analog tape at La Nef in Angoulême.

MARS RED SKY will take the road this spring for an extensive tour across Europe, taking them on the stages of major festivals such as Hellfest and Download Festival France.

MARS RED SKY ON TOUR
08/04 LIEGE (BE) Insert Name Festival
29/04 BERLIN (D) DesertFest Berlin
05/05 CREIL (FR) La Grange à Musique
10/05 DONOSTIA (SP) Dabadaba
11/05 PORTO (PT) Cave 45
12/05 LISBOA (PT) Sabotage Club
13/05 MALAGA (ES) Sala Eventual Music
14/05 MADRID (SP) Wurlitzer Ballroom
03/06 SIZUN (FR) La Bergerie Rock (w/ James Leg)
09/06 PARIS (FR) Download Festival France
15/06 NEUDEGG ALM (AT) Funkenflug Society
17/06 CLISSON (FR) Hellfest Open Air
24/06 BOURLON (FR) Rock In Bourlon
21/07 RIEGSEE (D) Raut Oak Fest
30/07 ALBI (FR) Xtreme Fest
05/08 SAINT-MAURICE-DE-GOURDANS (01) Sylak Open Air

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Mars Red Sky on Twitter

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

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Hors Sujet to Release Seuls les Moins Humbles en Hériteront EP April 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Two songs, 21 minutes. Loops, drones, probably some feedback and… vocals? Interested to hear what Florent Paris has come up with for this latest outing under his Hors Sujet experimentalist moniker. The prolific project has been a source of ambient depth and cinematic soundscaping over the better part of the last decade, and it seems development of new ideas is ongoing, as well as bringing the material into the physical realm. The new EP, dubbed Seuls les Moins Humbles en Hériteront, will be released in a limited edition of 30 signed physical copies on April 24.

Just to reiterate that number: 30. Not very many at all. The two-tracker will of course be posted up on the Hors Sujet Bandcamp as well, so you can keep an eye out for it there, but if you’re a stickler for tangible media like me and think it’s something you might want to have and hold, you should know that your chance to do so will no doubt be fleeting. Like, 30 copies fleeting.

Paris sent the following down the PR wire:

hors-sujet-Seuls-les-moins-humbles-en-heriteront

HORS SUJET announces a new EP

The France-based musical project Hors Sujet is proud to announce the release of its new EP, “Seuls les moins humbles en hériteront”. This new EP composed by Florent Paris, states within these 21 minutes of music a new-found confidence: the drone parts of a silent desert with vulnerable vocals and handmade tape loops. The official release will be on April 24th 2017, and the EP will be available on musical platforms (Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes) and in a physical limited serie of 30 hand-signed copies.

Hors Sujet is the personal and musical project of Florent Paris, mainly fluctuating between post rock, instrumental ambient, drone, doom and experimental. As soon as EPs, albums and live concerts were stated, Hors Sujet started to contribute to a lot of various artistic projects, such as cine-concerts, video live performance, original soundtracks, contemporary dance plays…. Everything is composed, arranged, recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by the only man behind this project.

Improvised music, sound experiments, combining forms, layers, noise, feebacks and landscapes, mostly seeking inspiration in dreamlike frames and visual representations, favoring improvisation and sound research, it’s by combining meticulousness and rough draft that Hors Sujet builds his music and blurs the boundaries between ambient, drone and post-rock.

https://horssujet.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/horssujet21
https://www.facebook.com/horssujetmusic
https://twitter.com/HorsSujetMusic
https://www.instagram.com/horssujetmusic/
http://www.horssujet.fr

Hors Sujet, “Le Souffle Peu à Peu Pt. 2”

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Quarterly Review: Ulver, Forming the Void, Hidden Trails, Svvamp, Black Mirrors, Endless Floods, Tarpit Boogie, Horseburner, Vermilion Whiskey, Hex Inverter

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.

Ulver on Twitter

House of Mythology website

 

Forming the Void, Relic

forming-the-void-relic

Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Hidden Trails, Instant Momentary Bliss

hidden-trails-instant-momentary-bliss

Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.

Hidden Trails on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

 

Svvamp, Svvamp

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Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.

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RidingEasy Records website

 

Black Mirrors, Funky Queen

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There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.

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Black Mirrors at Napalm Records

 

Endless Floods, II

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No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.

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Dry Cough Records on Bandcamp

Breathe Plastic Records on Bandcamp

 

Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam

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Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.

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Tarpit Boogie on Bandcamp

 

Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil

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The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.

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Horseburner on Bandcamp

 

Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition

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Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.

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Vermilion Whiskey on Bandcamp

 

Hex Inverter, Revision

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If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.

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Hex Inverter on Bandcamp

 

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