Quarterly Review: Witchcraft, The Wizar’d, Sail, Frank Sabbath, Scream of the Butterfly, Slow Draw, Baleful Creed, Surya Kris Peters, Slow Phase, Rocky Mtn Roller

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Day Three is always special when it comes to Quarterly Reviews because it’s where we hit and pass the halfway point on the way to covering 50 albums by Friday. This edition hasn’t been unpleasant at all — I’ve screened this stuff pretty hard, so I feel well prepared — but it still requires some doing to make it all come together. Basically a week’s worth. Ha.

If you haven’t found anything yet that speaks to you, I hope that changes either today, tomorrow or Friday.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Witchcraft, Black Metal

witchcraft black metal

Four years ago, Help With Dissertation Writing Key Stage 2 Now. 21 likes. Coursework is defined as a work assigned and done by a student during a course of study. Usually, it is evaluated as a part... Witchcraft frontman/founder Coursework Point is the renowned & best coursework writing service in UK & What Should Be In A Research Paper, our coursework writers are graduated from leading universities. Magnus Pelander released a solo album under his own name called native american research paper http://www.rndincentives.com/tefl-phd-thesis/ research paper writing competition 2012 essay customer service in banking industry analysis Time (review here) as a quick complement to the band’s own 2016 offering, We offer several Do My Thesis Statement, including slide deck creation, needs assessments, article creation, and editing. Nucleus (review here). Are you tired of boring college routine? Want an Easy Dorm Pranks that makes a difference? Our experts will look out for you in case of academic need. Pelander‘s short essay on my daily routine Recommended Site cheap dissertation writing help DO MY ASSIGNMENT write my papers Time was his first solo outing since a 2010 four-song EP that, for a long time, seemed like a one-off. Now, with http://www.igm-bei-vw.de/?english-help-essays to get the grade you need and pass the course without unnecessary stress. We Black Metal, Alliterant Thornton stumbles over his daub and ravin deafeningly! Flatulent and combustive Write An English Essay Thacher hemorrhaged his viscometer Witchcraft strips down to its barest essentials — Guide to Hiring a Freelance http://www.gergonne.com/?develop-critical-thinking-skills-adults By Nicole Bishop Why Hire a Freelance Business Writer? While running the writers' website, Writerfind.com, I am Pelander‘s voice and guitar — and he is the only performer on the seven-track/33-minute LP. Style-wise, it’s mostly sad, intimate folk, as Assignment Valley is the UKs legit assignment service catering queries like do my assignment or write my assignment cheap "http://masheroa.com/annotated-bibliography-apa-6th/?" Pelander begins with “Elegantly Expressed Depression” and tells the stories of “A Boy and a Girl,” “Sad People,” and even the key-inclusive “Sad Dog” before “Take Him Away” closes out with a bluesy guitar figure that features twice but is surrounded by a space that seems to use silence as much as music as a tool of its downer presentation. The title, obviously tongue-in-cheek, is clearly nonetheless a reference to depression, and while admission essay custom writing 101 Article read this a level politics essay help college essay application review service Pelander‘s performance is gorgeous and honest, it’s also very clearly held down by a massive emotional weight. So too, then, is the album.

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Nuclear Blast webstore

 

The Wizar’d, Subterranean Exile

the wizar'd subterranean exile

Making their debut on EssayGoal offers to our customers http://store.zionshope.org/?essay-writing-for-highschool-students writing service with guarantee of plagiarism free and top quality. Only professional writers Cruz Del Sur Music, Australia’s Our help in writing an essay for college includes a set of steps which strictly follow one after the other. Firstly, we pursue a laborious research and in-depth study on the given topic and subject. We explore every piece of information for the future writing. Then, we discuss the preliminary report and plan. The Wizar’d return from the doomliest of gutters with You need not to be worried at all as our UK Dissertation Writers are there to provide you the Hire Someone To Write College Essay service UK with high quality work Subterranean Exile, opening the album with the title-track’s take on capital-‘c’ Classic doom and the pre-NWOBHM-ism of Looking to try here? We are the trusted provider of custom academic writing for students worldwide and have written many of these types Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General, and, duh, Black Sabbath. In just 35 minutes, the four-piece make the most of their raw but epic vibes, using the means of the masters to showcase their own songwriting. This is doom metal at its most traditional, with two guitars intertwining riffs and leads on “Master of the Night” and the catchy “Long Live the Dead,” but there’s a dungeon-style spirit to the solo in that track — or maybe that’s just build off of the prior interlude “Ecstatic Visions Held Within the Monastic Tower” — that sets up the speedier run of “Evil in My Heart” ahead of the seven-minute finale “Dark Fortress.” As one might hope, they cap with due lumber and ceremony befitting an LP so thoroughly, so entirely doomed, and while perhaps it will be seven years before they do another full-length, it doesn’t matter. The Wizar’d stopped time a long time ago.

The Wizar’d on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Sail, Mannequin

Sail Mannequin

A follow-up to their later-2019 single “Starve,” the three-song Mannequin release from UK progressive metallers Sail is essentially a single as well. It begins with the ‘regular’ version of the track, which careens through its sub-five minutes with a standout hook and the dual melodic vocals of guitarists Tim Kazer and Charlie Dowzell. This is followed by “Mannequin [Synthwave Remix],” which lives up to its name, and brings bassist Kynan Scott to the fore on synth, replacing the drums of Tom Coles with electronic beats and the guitars with keyboards. The chorus works remarkably well. As fluidly as “Mannequin” fed into the subsequent remix, so too does “Mannequin [Synthwave Remix]” move directly into “Mannequin [Director’s Cut],” which ranges past the seven-minute mark and comes across rawer than the opening version. Clearly Sail knew they could get some mileage out of “Mannequin,” and they weren’t wrong. They make the most of the 16-minute occasion and keep listeners guessing where they might be headed coming off of 2017’s Slumbersong LP. Easy win.

Sail on Thee Facebooks

Sail on Bandcamp

 

Frank Sabbath, Compendium

Frank Sabbath Compendium

They’re not kidding with that title. Frank Sabbath‘s Compendium covers four years of studio work — basic improvisations done in 2016 plus overdubs over time — and the resulting freakout is over an hour and a half long. Its 14 component pieces run a gamut of psychedelic meandering, loud, quiet, fast, slow, spacey, earthy, whatever you’re looking for, there’s time for it all. The French trio were plenty weird already on 2017’s Are You Waiting? (review here), but the scales are tipped here in the extended “La Petite Course à Vélo” (11:16) and “Bermuda Cruise” (17:21) alone, never mind on the Middle Eastern surf of “Le Coucous” or the hopping bass and wah of “Gallus Crackus” and “L’Oeufou.” The band has issued live material in the past, and whatever they do, it’s pretty jammy, but Compendium specifically highlights this aspect of their sound, shoving it in front of the listener and daring them to take it on. If you’re mind’s not open, it might be by the time you’re done.

Frank Sabbath on Thee Facebooks

Frank Sabbath on Bandcamp

 

Scream of the Butterfly, Birth Death Repeat

scream of the butterfly birth death repeat

Scream of the Butterfly made a raucous debut in with 2017’s Ignition (review here), and Birth Death Repeat stays the course of bringing Hammond organ to the proceedings of melodically arranged ’90s-style heavy rock, resulting in a cross-decade feel marked by sharp tones and consistency of craft that’s evident in the taut executions of “The Devil is by My Side” and “Higher Place” before the more moderately-paced “Desert Song” takes hold and thickens out the tones accordingly. ‘Desert,’ as it were, is certainly an influence throughout, as the opener’s main riff feels Kyuss-derived and the later “Driven” has a fervent energy behind it as well. The latter is well-placed following the ballad “Soul Giver,” the mellower title-track interlude, and the funky but not nearly as propulsive “Turned to Stone.” They’ll soon close out with the bluesy “I’ve Seen it Coming,” but before they do, “Room Without Walls” brings some marked solo shred and a grungier riff that scuffs up the band’s collective boot nicely, emphasizing that the record itself is less mundane than it might at first appear or the title might lead one to believe.

Scream of the Butterfly on Thee Facebooks

Scream of the Butterfly on Bandcamp

 

Slow Draw, Gallo

Slow Draw Gallo

From minimalist drone to experimental folk, Slow Draw‘s Gallo sets a wide-open context for itself from the outset, a quick voice clip and the churning drone of “Phase 2” leading into the relatively straightforward “No Words” — to which there are, naturally, lyrics. Comprised solely of Mark Kitchens, also known for drumming in the duo Stone Machine Electric, Slow Draw might be called an experimentalist vehicle, but that doesn’t make Gallo any less satisfying. “No Words” and “Falling Far” and the just-acoustic-and-voice closer “End to That” serve as landmarks along the way, touching ground periodically as pieces like the strumming “Harvey’s Chair” and the droned-out “Industrial Aged” play off each other and “Angelo” — homage to Badalamenti, perhaps — the minimal “A Conflict” and “Tumoil” [sic] and “Playground” tip the balance to one side or another, the penultimate krautdrone of “Phase 1” unveiling perhaps what further manipulation turned into “Phase 2” earlier in the proceedings. At 33 minutes, Gallo feels careful not to overstay its welcome, and it doesn’t.

Slow Draw on Thee Facebooks

Slow Draw on Bandcamp

 

Baleful Creed, The Lowdown

baleful creed the lowdown

Belfast’s Baleful Creed present a crisp 10 tracks of well-composed, straightforward, doom-tinged heavy rock and roll — they call it ‘doom blues boogie,’ and fair enough — with their third long-player, The Lowdown. They’re not pretending to be anything they’re not and offering their sounds to the listener not in some grand statement of aesthetic accomplishment, and not as a showcase of whatever amps they purchased to make their sound, but instead simply for what they are: songs. Crafted, honed, thought-out and brought to bear with vitality and purpose to give the band the best representation possible. Front-to-back, The Lowdown sounds not necessarily overthought, but professional enough to be called “cared about,” and whether it’s the memorable opening with “Mr. Grim” or the ’90s C.O.C. idolatry of “Tramalamapam” or the strong ending salvo of “End Game,” with its inclusion of piano, the mostly-subdued but swaggering “Line of Trouble” and the organ-topped closer “Southgate of Heaven,” Baleful Creed never veer too far from the central purpose of their priority on songwriting, and neither do they need to.

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Baleful Creed on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, O Jardim Sagrado

Surya Kris Peters O Jardim Sagrado

Though he’s still best known as the frontman of Samsara Blues Experiment, Christian Peters — aka Surya Kris Peters — has become a prolific solo artist as well. The vinyl-ready eight songs/37 minutes of O Jardim Sagrado meet him in his element, bringing together psychedelia, drone and synthesizer/keyboard effects to convey various moods and ideas. As with most of the work done under the Surya Kris moniker, he doesn’t add vocals, but the album wants nothing for expression just the same, whether it’s the Bouzouki on “Endless Green” or the guest contribution of voice from Monika Saint-Oktobre on the encompassing 11-minute title-track, which would be perfect for a dance hall if dance halls were also religious ceremonies. Experiments and explorations like “Celestial Bolero” and “Saudade” bring electric guitar leads and Mellotron-laced wistfulness, respectively, while after the title-cut, the proggy techno of “Blue Nebula” gives way to what might otherwise be a boogie riff on closer “Southern Sunrise.” Peters always seems to find a way to catch the listener off guard. Maybe himself too.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Surya Kris Peters on Bandcamp

 

Slow Phase, Slow Phase

slow phase slow phase

A strong if raw debut from Oakland three-piece Slow Phase, this 39-minute eight-tracker presents straight-ahead classic American heavy rock and roll in the style of acts like a less garage The Brought Low, a looser-knit Sasquatch or any number of bands operating under the Ripple Music banner. Less burly than some, more punk than others, the power trio includes guitarist Dmitri Mavra of Skunk, as well as vocalist/bassist Anthony Pulsipher of Spidermeow and vocalist/drummer Richard Stuverud, the rhythm section adding to the blues spirit and spiraling manic jangle of “Blood Circle.” Opener “Starlight” was previously issued as a teaser single for the album, and stands up to its position here, with the eponymous “Slow Phase” backing its strength of hook. “Psychedelic Man” meanders in its lead section, as it should, and the catchy “Silver Fuzz” sets up the riotous “Midnight Sun” and “No Time” to lead into the electric piano of “Let’s Do it Again (For the First Time),” which I’d kind of take as a goof were it not for the righteous jam that finishes it, referencing “Highway Star” during its fadeout. Some organizing to do, but they obviously know what they’re shooting for.

Slow Phase on Thee Facebooks

Slow Phase on Bandcamp

 

Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller

rocky mtn roller rocky mtn roller

This band might actually be more cohesive than they want to be. A double-guitar four-piece from Asheville, North Carolina, with a connection to cult heroes Lecherous Gaze via six-stringer Zach Blackwell — joined in the band by guitarist Ruby Roberts, bassist Luke Whitlatch and drummer Alex Cabrera — they’re playing to a certain notion of brashness as an ideal, but while the vocals have a drunk-fuckall stoner edge, the construction of the songs underlying is unremittingly sound on this initial EP. “Monster” opens with a welcome hook and “When I’m a Pile” sounds classic-tinged enough to be a heavy ’70s nod, but isn’t so easily placed to a specific band as to be called derivative. The longest of the four cuts at 5:30, “Bald Faced Hornet” boasts some sting in its snare sound, but the Southern heavy push at its core makes those dueling solos in the second half all the more appropriate, and closing out, “She Ran Off with the Dealer” has both charm and Thin Lizzy groove, which would basically be enough on their own to get me on board. A brazen and blazing candidate for Tee Pee Records‘ digital annex, if someone else doesn’t snag them first.

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Rocky Mtn Roller on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Ahab, Rrrags, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Earthbong, Rito Verdugo, Death the Leveller, Marrowfields, Dätcha Mandala, Numidia

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Well, I’m starting an hour later than I did yesterday, so that’s maybe not the most encouraging beginning I could think of, but screw it, I’m here, got music on, got fingers on keys, so I guess we’re underway. Yesterday was remarkably easy, even by Quarterly Review standards. I’ve been doing this long enough at this point — five-plus years — that I approach it with a reasonable amount of confidence it’ll get done barring some unforeseen disaster.

But yesterday was a breeze. What does today hold? In the words of Mrs. Wagner from fourth grade homeroom, “see me after.”

Ready, set, go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Horisont, Sudden Death

horisont sudden death

With a hefty dose of piano up front and keys throughout, Gothenburg traditionalist heavy rockers Horisont push retro-ism into full-on arena status. Moving past some of the sci-fi aspects of 2017’s About Time, Sudden Death comprises 13 tracks and an hour’s runtime, so rest assured, there’s room for everything, including the sax on “Into the Night,” the circa-’77 rock drama in the midsection of the eight-minute “Archeopteryx in Flight,” and the comparatively straightforward seeming bounce of “Sail On.” With cocaine-era production style, Sudden Death is beyond the earlier-’70s vintage mindset of the band’s earliest work, and songs like “Standing Here” and the penultimate proto-metaller “Reign of Madness” stake a claim on the later era, but the post-Queen melody of “Revolution” at the outset and the acoustic swing in “Free Riding” that follows set a lighthearted tone, and as always seems to be the case with Horisont, there’s nothing that comes across as more important than the songwriting.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

 

Ahab, Live Prey

ahab live prey

Scourge of the seven seas that German nautically-themed funeral doomers Ahab are, Live Prey is their first live album and it finds them some five years removed from their last studio LP, The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here). For a band who in the past has worked at a steady three-year pace, maybe it was time for something, anything to make its way to public ears. Fair enough, and in five tracks and 63 minutes, Live Prey spans all the way back to 2006’s Call of the Wretched Sea with “Ahab’s Oath” and presents all but two of that debut’s songs, beginning with the trilogy “Below the Sun,” “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” and switching the order of “Ahab’s Oath” and “The Hunt” from how they originally appeared on the first record to end with the foreboding sounds of waves rolling accompanied by minimal keyboards. It’s massively heavy, of course — so was Call of the Wretched Sea — and whatever their reason for not including any other album’s material, at least they’ve included anything.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Rrrags, High Protein

rrrags high protein

Let’s assume the title High Protein might refer to the fact that Dutch/Belgian power trio Rrrags have ‘trimmed the fat’ from the eight songs that comprise their 33-minute sophomore LP. It’s easy enough to believe listening to a cut like “Messin'” or the subsequent “Sad Sanity,” which between the two of them are about as long as the 5:14 opener “The Fridge” just before. But while High Protein has movers and groovers galore in those tracks and the fuzzier “Sugarcube” — the tone of which might remind that guitarist Ron Van Herpen is in Astrosoniq — the stomping “Demons Dancing” and the strutter “Hellfire,” there’s live-DeepPurple-style breadth on the eight-minute “Dark is the Day” and closer “Window” bookends “The Fridge” in length while mellowing out and giving drummer/vocalist Rob Martin a rest (he’s earned it by then) while bassist Rob Zim and Van Herpen carry the finale. If thinking of it as a sleeper hit helps you get on board, so be it, but Rrrags‘ second album is of unmitigated class and straight-up killer performance. It is not one to be overlooked.

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Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Viscerals

pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs viscerals

There’s stoner roll and doomed crash in “New Body,” drone-laced spoken-word experimentalism in “Blood and Butter,” and post-punk angular whathaveyou as “Halloween Bolson” plays out its nine-minute stretch, but Viscerals — the third or fourth Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album, depending on what you count — seems to be at its most satisfying in blowout freak-psych moments like opener “Reducer” and “Rubbernecker,” which follows, while the kinda-metal of “World Crust”‘s central riff stumbles willfully and teases coming apart before circling back, and “Crazy in Blood” and closer “Hell’s Teeth” are more straight-up heavy rock. It’s a fairly wide arc the UK outfit spread from one end of the record to the other — and they’re brash enough to pull it off, to be sure — but with the hype machine so fervently behind them, I have a hard time knowing whether I’m actually just left flat by the record itself or all the hyperbole-set-on-fire that’s surrounded the band for the last couple years. Viscerals gets to the heart of the matter, sure enough, but then what?

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Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Earthbong, Bong Rites

Earthbong Bong Rites

Kiel, Germany’s Earthbong answer the stoner-sludge extremity of their 2018 debut, One Earth One Bong (review here), with, well, more stoner-sludge extremity. What, you thought they’d go prog? Forget it. You get three songs. Opener “Goddamn High” and “Weedcult Today” top 15 minutes each, and closer “Monk’s Blood” hits half an hour. Do the quick math yourself on that and you’ll understand just how much Earthbong have been looking forward to bashing you over the head with riffs. “Weedcult Today” is more agonizingly slow than “Goddamn High,” at least at the beginning, but it builds up and rolls into a pace that, come to think of it, is still probably slower than most, and of course “Monk’s Blood” is an epic undertaking right up to its last five minutes of noise. It could’ve been an album on its own. But seriously, if you think Earthbong give a shit, you’re way off base. This is tone, riff and weed worship and everything else is at best a secondary concern. Spend an hour at mass and see if you don’t come out converted.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus

rito verdugo post-primatus

No doubt that at some future time shortly after the entire world has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a glut of releases comprised of material written during the lockdown. Peruvian four-piece Rito Verdugo are ahead of the game, then, with their Post-Primatus four-song EP. Issued digitally as the name-your-price follow-up to their also-name-your-price 2018 debut, Cosmos, it sets a 14-minute run from its shortest cut to its longest, shifting from the trippy “Misterio” into fuzz rockers “Monte Gorila” (which distills Earthless vibes to just over three minutes) and “Lo Subnormal” en route to the rawer garage psychedelia of “Inhumación,” which replaces its vocals with stretches of lead guitar that do more than just fill the spaces verses might otherwise be and instead add to the breadth of the release as a whole. Safe to assume Rito Verdugo didn’t plan on spending any amount of time this year staying home to avoid getting a plague, but at least they were able to use the time productively to give listeners a quick sample of where they’re at sound-wise coming off the first album. Whenever and however it shows up, I’ll look forward to what they do next.

Rito Verdugo on Thee Facebooks

Rito Verdugo on Bandcamp

 

Death the Leveller, II

Death the Leveller II

Signed to Cruz Del Sur Music as part of that label’s expanding foray into traditionalist doom (see also: Pale Divine, The Wizar’d, Apostle of Solitude, etc.), Dublin’s Death the Leveller present an emotionally driven four tracks on their 38-minute label debut, the counterintuitively titled II. Listed as their first full-length, it’s about the same length as their debut “EP,” 2017’s I, but more important is the comfort and patience the band shows with working in longer-form material, opener “The Hunt Eternal,” “The Golden Bough” and closer “The Crossing” making an impression at over nine minutes apiece — “The Golden Bough” tops 12 — while “So They May Face the Sun” runs a mere 7:37 and is perhaps the most unhurried of the bunch, playing out with a cinematic sweep of guitar melody and another showcase for the significant presence of frontman Denis Dowling, who’s high in the mix at times but earns that forward position with a suitably standout performance across the record’s span.

Death the Leveller on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Marrowfields, Metamorphoses

marrowfields metamorphoses

It isn’t surprising to learn that the members of Fall River, Massachusetts, five-piece Marrowfields come from something of an array of underground styles, some of them pushing into more extreme terrain, because the five songs of their debut full-length, Metamorphoses, do likewise. With founding guitarist/main-songwriter Brandon Green at the helm as producer as well, there’s a suitably inward-looking feel to the material, but coinciding with its rich atmospheres are flashes of blastbeats, death metal chug, double-kick and backing growls behind the cleaner melodic vocals that keep Marrowfields distinct from entirely traditionalist doom. It is a niche into which they fit well on this first long-player, and across the five songs/52 minutes of Metamorphoses, they indeed shapeshift between genre elements in order to best serve the purposes of the material, calling to mind Argus in the progressive early stretch of centerpiece “Birth of the Liberator” while tapping Paradise Lost chug and ambience before the blasts kick in on closer “Dragged to the World Below.” Will be interesting to see which way their — or Green‘s, as it were — focus ultimately lies, but there isn’t one aesthetic nuance misused here.

Marrowfields on Thee Facebooks

Black Lion Records on Bandcamp

 

Dätcha Mandala, Hara

datcha mandala hara

Dätcha Mandala present a strong opening salvo of rockers on Hara, their second album for MRS Red Sound, before turning over to all-out tambourine-and-harp blues on “Missing Blues.” From there, they could go basically anywhere they want, and they do, leading with piano on “Morning Song,” doing wrist-cramp-chug-into-disco-hop in “Sick Machine” and meeting hand-percussion with space rocking vibes on “Moha.” They’ve already come a long way from the somewhat misleading ’70s heavy of opener “Stick it Out,” “Mother God” and “Who You Are,” but the sonic turns that continue with the harder-edged “Eht Bup,” the ’70s balladry of “Tit’s,” an unabashed bit o’ twang on “On the Road” and full-on fuzz into a noise freakout on closer “Pavot.” Just what the hell is going on with Hara? Anything Dätcha Mandala so desire, it would seem. They have the energy to back it up, but if you see them labeled as any one microgenre or another, keep in mind that inevitably that’s only part of the story and the whole thing is much weirder than they might be letting on. No complaints with that.

Dätcha Mandala on Thee Facebooks

MRS Red Sound

 

Numidia, Numidia

Numidia Numidia

If you’ve got voices in your band that can harmonize like guitarists James Draper, Shane Linfoot and Mike Zoias, I’m not entirely sure what would lead you to start your debut record with a four-minute instrumental, but one way or another, Sydney, Australia’s Numidia — completed by bassist/keyboardist Alex Raffaelli and drummer Nathan McMahon — find worthy manners in which to spend their time. Their first collection takes an exploratory approach to progressive heavy rock, seeming to feel its way through components strung together effectively while staying centered around the guitars. Yes, three of them. Psychedelia plays a strong role in later pieces “Red Hymn” and the folky “Te Waka,” but if the eponymous “Numidia” is a mission statement on the part of the five-piece, it’s one cast in a prog mentality pushed forward with poise to suit. Side A capper “A Million Martyrs” would seem to draw the different sides together, but it’s no minor task for it to do so, and there’s little sign in these songs that Numidia won’t grow more expansive as time goes on.

Numidia on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Stream Review: Mars Red Sky Live From the Teleport for Europe & North America, 06.18.20

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky stream

It’s a curious kind of thing, the way watching a band play a live streaming show just kind of works itself into your day. I’d imagine that’s what it must be like for people who live in major urban centers when it comes to going out. I’ve never lived within half an hour of a venue, so rock and roll in a live context has always had an element of travel and a physical distance from the rest of my “life,” as it were. Music has rarely been so conveniently accessed for me. You just find a link — easy in this case, since Mars Red Sky emailed them out earlier in the day — and put it on and watch a band play live. I know it’s not necessarily new technology, though it’s a more widespread use for it, and if I’m wowed by it, that probably just means I’m old. Fine.

As it happened, Mars Red Sky‘s two Live From the Teleport streams — one first for Europe, then one for the Americas — fit neatly into my schedule. The Europe one happened during my kid’s naptime and the second, at 8PM local time, started just as the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation my wife and I were watching was ending. I put on the Euro stream and found it opened by a couple of vintage commercials, which is fitting to the visual aesthetic the band have harnessed inmars red sky collaboration with director Seb Antoine, whose done videos and visuals for them going back some number of years and was involved in the direction here. Based in Bordeaux, where these shows took place, Mars Red Sky have always to some degree been conscious of the visual aspects of their presentation. Their artwork suits their records, their videos are creative, and these commercials were a fun way to lead into (and out of) the performance itself. The US stream had ones for Oldsmobile and Tang. They both had old video games.

Ostensibly supporting last year’s The Task Eternal (review here), the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/backing vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau seemed comfortable on the stage and looked to have no trouble locking into a performance-mode despite the lack of a physical crowd in front of them. The trio were playing two distinct sets with two different setlists, each about an hour long, and they opened the European set with a new riff from a song currently in the works. After the US show, they mentioned it might end up as an EP, which would be in character for the band between full-lengths, but either way it was appreciated to get a preview of where they’re headed as they continue down their path of progressive heavy psychedelic rock.

I tried to read some intention behind their choices of songs, but they had taken requests on social media and of course I chimed in, campaigning for “Way to Rome” from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), “Friendly Fire” from 2016’s third album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), both of which were aired in the Americas stream, and several others. I don’t know if they were going for two distinct vibes from one set to the other, tailoring to region, or just taking requests — the fact is that Mars Red Sky have enough of a catalog between LPs and EPs that it’s not a challenge for them to fill about two hours of stage time. And they did so without repeating a song between one set and the other. Here are the setlists:

mars red sky tangEU:
New Riff (Slow)
Under the Hood
Collector
Crazy Hearth
Mindreader
Shot in Providence
Hovering Satellites
Up the Stairs

AM:
Reacts
Alien Grounds/Apex III
Friendly Fire w/ guest vocalist
Way to Rome
Strong Reflection
Hollow King
The Light Beyond

Finishing the first set with “Up the Stairs” worked better than I thought it would, and “Way to Rome” into “Strong Reflection” in the second set just about made my night, particularly with a bit of chugging flourish they added to the latter. For “Friendly Fire” they brought out a guest singer whose name was revealed in the live Q&A afterwards as Helen Ferguson, vocalist and bandmate of Pras‘ in Queen of the Meadow. In any case, she added another layer of melodic sweetness to Pras‘ own voice and as it was something they’d never done before, it seemed a particularly brave move to do so as a part of this stream. “Mindreader” was of course a heavy riff delight, and “Shot in Providence,” the latest single “Crazy Hearth,” “Reacts and “Hollow King” — the latter three all from The Task Eternal — were more than welcome. Seeing them play the most recent stuff was a big part of why I wanted to watch, since as they’ve grown more progressive in the construction of their songs, invariably their live renditions have had to follow suit. As much as their first record continues to hold a special place in my heart, they’ve only become a richer band with time.

There were audio problems after the first set, but the band found a marker board and wrote a thank you message on it, while also playing with a Simon — it had been a minute since I saw one. They came back live after the second set and in that Q&A revealed that the Americas stream had been taped. Not actually unreasonable, since it would’ve started at 2AM on French time, but it did change things. Was it still a live event. Are these streams that have started in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic ever? How is a live performance, taped live and aired as a live stream not live? Does it make a difference?

I don’t know. There isn’t really a ‘live culture’ around streaming yet to properly gauge an audience impression. From what I saw in the YouTube chat, people were grateful to the band for making the effort — and with professional sound and lights, visuals behind them, the commercials, and at least four cameras operating, it was an effort — and frankly, I was too.

The after-show session lasted about 10 minutes, which given that that was live and it was three on the morning for them, was plenty. Pras leaned forward on the couch, Kinast leaned back and snuggled his cat. Only Gazeau, who apparently doesn’t live in Bordeaux, didn’t take part; they disguised one of the camera operators and the reveal was pretty funny. I submitted the question as to how doing these sets compared to the experience of playing live shows, and Pras noted that with the sound, lighting and video crews, it wasn’t like mars red sky teleport posterthe space was totally empty, and that the drones and psychedelic noisemaking they did between songs — more prevalent in the second set than the first — was in part to ease the awkward silence where audience response would otherwise be. It was a prudent and effective move, and emblematic of the attention to detail Mars Red Sky bring to just about everything they do.

My understanding is downloads of the videos of these sets will be available to those who paid for them as part of their tickets, but it seems to me next time Bandcamp has a no-fee day, the band have audio well worth issuing as a special release. I don’t know that will happen, of course, but if they wanted to make it so, they’d certainly have a fan-piece to mark the occasion.

A shifting definition of normality makes me less inclined to speculate as to what live music will look like on the other side of this current pandemic, in Europe, North and South America, or anywhere else. As it stands, however, seeing a group like Mars Red Sky playing their songs, even in the setting of being on my couch after a long day and just before going to bed, is more than welcome. It’s not only a reminder of what’s missing from these incredibly and increasingly strange days, but a new form of creative expression taking shape while we watch. That in itself is a reason to be thankful.

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal (2019)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

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Slift Post “Lions, Tigers & Bears” Live Video; Ummon to See US Release

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

slift (Photo by Rabo)

Let’s face it, rhythmic tension has been a getoff for freaks looking to shake ass since the first caveweirdos started banging on the walls. Is what French heavy psych trio Slift bring to the space-surf boogie of the 16-minute “Lions, Tigers & Bears” any different? Well, it’s got reverb, if that’s what you mean. One way or the other, the shouts of its verse capture a proto-punk freedom amid all that urgent swirl, and the band indeed get the crowd — and the camera — moving in the new video, all vim, vigor, piss, vinegar, and direct-to-the-cortex vibe. Hey man, you wanna be special? This shit’ll make you special.

Slift released their oh-my-thank-you-very-much full-length, Ummon (review here), through Stolen Body Records and Vicious Circle Records in the just-pre-global pandemic early going of winter 2020, and “Lions, Tigers & Bears” is the lengthy closer of that substantial offering at 13 minutes in its studio version. The live take featured in the video below — recorded in the trio’s native Toulouse — on March 7, which was not a week before France went on lockdown owing to COVID-19. It’s safe to assume that, for many if not most in the crowd, this was the last show they attended before entering the world of banned-mass-gatherings, social-distancing, and hoarding toilet paper that marked this demented Spring.

Is that a lurking sense of doom in the high contrast black and white shuffle? An extra note of panic in the flashing lights I detect? Certainly these things are easy to read in retroactively — Slift powercharging through one last get-out before humanity hunkers down for months to watch waves of infections scroll by in unfathomable statistics. Europe is reopening now, tour dates being announced for the Fall. Is it wishful thinking? How much is lost? Shit if I know.

But hey, Ummon‘s gonna hit US shores this month, with Vicious Circle handling the North American release. Dig the tension ahead of time and have fun trying to get your head around it. Maybe you’ll get there. Maybe we all will.

Enjoy:

Slift, “Lions, Tigers & Bears” live video

French space psych trio SLIFT are about to release their new full-length ‘Ummon’ across the Atlantic Ocean this June via Vicious Circle.

Heaviness, riffs, psychedelic, science-fiction… SLIFT’s progressive sound is a colourful and legendary journey to the edge of kraut and stoner rock. The live video “Lions, Tigers & Bears” highlights the band’s magnetic creativity as well as powerful and unearthly jams. Recorded at Mix’art Myrys in Toulouse, France on March 7th 2020. A video by Jeff Morlais.

From the many shows performed across Europe – sharing the stage with Jon Spencer, DeWolff or Mars Red Sky – to the KEXP session (recorded in December 2019 during Les Trans’ Musicales), the French trio launched an outstanding astral adventure. Their latest record ‘Ummon’ is a space odyssey about Titans, blending acid krautrock, cosmic jazz and powerful heavy saturated guitars. Out since February 2020 in Europe, the double LP is coming out this June for the very first time in the USA! More details soon.

In February 2020, SLIFT released their double LP ‘Ummon’. Delivered through Vicious Circle Records (France) and Stolen Body Records (UK), the album is coming out in the USA this June. Stay tuned!

SLIFT are:
Jean Fossat : guitar, vocals, synth
Rémi Fossat : bass
Canek Flores : drums

Slift, Ummon (2020)

Slift on Thee Facebooks

Slift on Bandcamp

Stolen Body Records store

Vicious Circle Records store

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Olson, Van Cleef, Williams Post “Good as Gold” Video; As Gold Turned to Black Powder out This Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Olson Van Cleef Williams good as gold

As one might expect from the commas between the names, Olson, Van Cleef, Williams is a three-way collaboration. It’s component members are T.G. Olson, also of Across Tundras, Ivonne Van Cleef and Caleb R.K. Williams, and the long-distance project — it would seem to be split between France and Plattsmouth, Nebraska — will release its debut album, As Gold Turned to Black Powder, this Saturday, June 13. To herald the arrival, a video for “Good as Gold” from the 43-minute 12-tracker has been put together featuring atmospheric, mostly-void-of-humans footage; though I’d swear I see Lee Van Cleef making an appearance early on, which would make sense. Either way, the emptiness suits the track itself, which arrives early on the record and helps set a minimalist Americana tone and a kind of outsider-meditative spirit to which the record lives up.

I don’t know the nature of the project, whether it’s a one-off or if it’ll be an ongoing collaboration or what, but the players’ styles certainly seem suited to each other from what I’ve been able to discern in listening so far. The melancholia that unfolds deceptively quick on “Good as Gold” should give you some idea of where they’re coming from, but the album of course doesn’t all play out along the same lines. I’m sure it’ll be streaming this weekend, so if you get the chance to dig in, you should do so.

In the meantime, the video and the limited amount of info I have are below.

Enjoy:

Olson, Van Cleef, Williams, “Good as Gold” official video

“Good As Gold” by Olson, Van Cleef, Williams

“As Gold Turned To Black Powder” available on june 13
https://eaglestone.bandcamp.com/

Music composed, improvised and recorded by T.G. Olson, Ivonne Van Cleef and Caleb R.K. Williams.

(Drums by Julián Pinto)

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The Eagle Stone Collective on Instagram

The Eagle Stone Collective on Bandcamp

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Mars Red Sky Post “Crazy Hearth” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

If the planet were operating in the manner which we as humans thought it might be just a few short months, ago, French progressive heavy psychedelic rockers Mars Red Sky would be heading to North America this month for a tour supporting 2019’s The Task Eternal (review here) that would have begun May 28 in Chicago and run through Monolith on the Mesa (which has been pushed back to September) and finished in Vancouver, British Columbia, on June 7. It was to be presented by this site, among others. Well, of course it’s not happening — how could it?

To be sure, that’s a bummer, but if you look at the video for “Crazy Hearth,” which the Bordeaux three-piece filmed prior to the pandemic with director Seb Antoine — he did their 2016 “Alien Grounds” short film (posted here) and has worked with them on other clips too — it ends up being a pretty striking reminder not just of what we all miss at this point, which is being together, but inevitably of what we’re staying apart now to preserve.

In the video we see the band — guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/sometimes vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mat Gazeau — making their way to a meetup in the woods. Gazeau goes by canoe, and there’s hiking and cool drone shots of the band playing spliced in, and in the end, everyone gets together and they leave in the canoe after building the titular hearth. It has enough heart and is certainly earthy enough to earn the wordplay of the song’s name, but given the context in which the video arrives, it’s hard not to appreciate the simple togetherness and the obvious bond the trio display, while they’re playing and while they’re not.

That’s why we’re quarantined. Because at some point, we want to be able to go back to that without risking harm to one another, and this seems to be the road that gets us there. It’s easy math to do and a hard way to live, but that’s what it’s all about.

Mars Red Sky, “Crazy Hearth” official video

“We got in touch again with Seb Antoine, the best film director ever, to shoot our ***NEW VIDEO CLIP for CRAZY HEARTH*** before the Covid mess. We are particularly proud of this one and really hope you’ll will like it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

From the new album ‘The Task Eternal’ out September 27th 2019 on Listenable Records.

Directed By Seb Antoine
Assistant : Sophie Labruyere
Special Thanks to Mr Gazeau for the Canoe

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal (2019)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Days of Rona: Mars Red Sky

Posted in Features on April 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

mars red sky

Days of Rona: Julien Pras, Jimmy Kinast and Mat Gazeau of Mars Red Sky (Bordeaux, France)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Mat: First of all, everybody is in good health so far. We were on tour till mid march and were heading to the next city when we got a phone call from the venue saying we can drive straight home as all the public manifestations were canceled, so we did.

Jimmy: We had to postpone a lot of club shows and we’re trying to reschedule summer festivals as well for 2021. The most complicated thing is that nobody can say today how long it will take before we’re authorized to organise shows again, pretty scary…

Julien: We’ll try to get together and practice again as soon as we’re free to do so!

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Mat: We must stay at home. Still we can go out to work (if you cannot work from home), to buy food, to make a minimum of physical exercises, plus some other things… For these things we need a paper we fill ourselves saying what we do.

Jimmy: The government said on April 13th that they will gradually open some stores, let people go back to their work and children go to school starting May 11th but bars and restaurants will stay closed for months…

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Mat: It’s obvious as most of the bands/musicians around us rely on live shows to exist and to grow. Personally I live it as being temporarily unemployed for operational reasons.

However, I spend lot of time working on my instrument, I’m lucky enough to have a cabin in the woods where I can play drums and work on different exercises.

Also, I’m improvising myself as a teacher with my 11 years old son in the morning, we keep doing sport with my girlfriend on a weekly basis, and i have more time to read books.

Jimmy: I’m very lucky because I have a house and a garden, I spend a lot of time gardening and taking care of my chickens too…

Julien: Some artists in all fields are embracing the concept of digital communication to a extent that seems questionable.. Saying it’s a bad thing would be bogus, we even made a Beatles cover video with my sweetie, but it’s quite a pressure just to witness this endless stream of content washing over… Now I’m also fortunate enough to have a little home studio where I can stay busy mixing stuff, sketching out song ideas or riffs, fiddling with effect pedals.. And reading quite a lot too, switching from newspapers to fiction depending on my degree of anxiety.. Though so far we’ve managed to stay relatively serene in the household, considering the situation. We’re blessed with good health and a positive attitude… and a cat.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Mat: I try to keep in mind that even if the situation is extremely bad, we still have a roof, we have food (too much), and it’s not war!! These words have been used by our president which, to me, is a zealous, over-reacting message given to the population. Besides, that word was unnecessary and out of context, nobody is shooting at us, no bombs are falling from the sky, we don’t have to run out from our country, we just have to stay at home!

I am not undermining the situation, I find it sad and serious but I often see on social networks people complaining because they cannot go out and they get bored. It’s quite egocentric!

Much more horrible things are happening right now in Syria (for info: Bordeaux to Damas, Syria, is almost the same distance as LA to NYC), many countries in Africa don’t have enough food and people there die from famine and multiple diseases, but in our egocentric occidental state of mind, we just don’t give a fuck as none of this happened to us (yet).

Furthermore, what strikes me is that our medias can show an incredible ability to inform and react when a situation feels so close to home, when it knocks at our door, when it feels tangible. Horrible, similar and worst, issues are killing humans everyday already, be it famine, multiple diseases… but this happens so far away that we kind of see it in a passive way, we know it is there, we kind of mention it here and there in the news, say it is sad, then move on to our lives thinking “ok, that’s the fate of these places”, it is lived and accepted as THEIR fate, like WE are lucky and untouchable. Today, we realize that we can be affected and touched by similar issues, so we start panicking, all of a sudden we feel vulnerable, and we don’t like it, so we wanna feel heard, looked at, and taken care of, we cannot accept it as fate anymore, it takes another turn, now solutions have to be found quickly, it reached too close to home.

That is selfish to me, even more, it is dangerous behavior. It shows our capacity to willfully ignore the impact of big important issues when they are not literally touching us, regardless of the fact that they are in fact touching us, but indirectly, in a more passive way.

Take pollution for example, it kills at a bigger rate than the Covid-19, but we do not see it, it is not as tangible and fast, so we don’t react, we keep living and consuming in a blissfully unaware, irresponsible way, making us responsible for the death of thousands if not millions of people. If we can react now, if our government can take measures now, what prevented them from taking some measures many years ago to protect the planet? What prevented us from adopting a responsible behavior?

Where was daily front cover on every media? We are all guilty. We are responsible for destroying our planet, killing species, reducing their living environment and causing migration of species and humans. Bringing them closer leads to merging germs that shouldn’t meet in their natural environment and causes diseases to appear. Our behavior contributes to unbalancing the way nature works, and thus bringing war, famine and diseases all over the world. It is high time we open our eyes and see that the marching death band has been walking alongside us for a long time. What we finally accept to see now is nothing but a consequence of this biggest worldwide issue, it is a warning and we will face many more of these. If we are able to accept adapting our behavior now for the greater good, I hope we’ll be able to keep doing it once the quarantine is over.

Julien: May I add, it’s not exactly the first time the West has an epiphany, the crisis in 2008 for example. And a growing number of us are seeing the flaws and the limits of an aggressive liberal economy, the way it affects our lives in so many ways. Not to mention the ongoing ecological crisis that a lot of us are now aware of.
But we sure hope that it won’t be back to “business as usual” this time, that our governments will come up with at least a couple of progressive actions, and not just temporary ones… And that “exceptional measures” likely to come up and jeopardize our civil rights won’t apply forever!

Jimmy: There are some interesting things in that covid crisis. Speaking about civil rights for example: it’s really impressive how the population in Europe is ready to give away a lot of their freedom (lockdown, tracking, checking etc…). The whole population is supporting our leaders and scientists over here. We entrust them with saving the same amount of lives as during a famine or due to pollution within a very short span of time. Hope we can be that brave and involved if the big one hits because of global environmental issues. These last days in France a lot of producers and farmers had to organise a new way to distribute their goods and we can see a real change because more and more people are looking for local products and short-cut « the Big Market ». No plane for a few months is also very good news for the environment and seeing all these wild animals all over our cities makes some people think.

That crisis might be a chance for us because facts / science proved that going back to « normal » with economic growth as a main goal for a few is a suicide for all. We need to stop these « has-been » people because environmental questions can only be fixed if we connect them to worldwide social issues.

http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
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Days of Rona: Benjamin Rousseau of The Necromancers

Posted in Features on April 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

the necromancers ben rousseau

Days of Rona: Benjamin Rousseau of The Necromancers (Poitiers, France)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Each of us is at home, in good health and well surrounded. We are currently into composition and pre-production of our next album and we’ve had to postpone certain deadlines, including studio recording. For the moment, we are working remotely.

Luckily we didn’t have big tours scheduled, but obviously the few shows we had are now cancelled or postponed.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In France, we were hit quite quickly by the pandemic and the measures taken are drastic. Of course, we are not allowed to go outside unless absolutely necessary. A curfew has been put in place in most cities, including Poitiers, where I live. The streets are deserted and silent, it gives a special and new atmosphere, not unpleasant to compose.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Fortunately, neither my friends nor my family were affected. The first ones affected in France are the hospitals and their staff.

As for the musical world, it is suspended, as everywhere. However, a lot of support and projects arise from this situation, and artists redouble their imagination to maintain a musical activity on social networks. I’m sure we’d all like to see more online Kadavar concerts.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We are doing well and working every day to write our next obscure chapter.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones, stay home.

https://www.facebook.com/thenecromancersband/
https://www.instagram.com/thenecromancersband/
https://necromancers.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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