Mars Red Sky Announce Spring Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Seems to me it’s about time we started hearing murmurings of a follow-up to Mars Red Sky‘s 2016 full-length, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Now, I haven’t heard any, so I’m not trying to surreptitiously say there’s something in the works or anything like that, just that if you look at the arc of the band’s career to-date, it was three years from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and their second album, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and two between that record and the aforementioned Apex III, so figure sometime in the not too distant future if they’re keeping on pace it would make sense for them to have something new brewing. Maybe an announcement in summetime? Really, whenever would work as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, they’re still on the road for Apex III, playing Freak Valley and Resurrection Fest later this summer, as well I’m sure as more to come.

Dates follow:

mars red sky tour poster

MARS RED SKY go East: European spring shows announced!

French heavy psych trio MARS RED SKY keep spreading the sounds of their latest album “Apex III (Praise For The Burning Soul)” by hitting the roads of Eastern Europe this spring, including first ever appearances in some countries.

France – Club shows (March to May 2018)
02/03 TOULOUSE (31) Les Pavillons Sauvages
21/03 CHAMBERY (73) Le Brin de Zinc
22/03 LYON (69) Jack Jack
23/03 LE HAVRE (76) Centre d’Expression Musicale
29/03 RENNES (35) Le Mondo Bizarro
11/05 LARBBEY (40) Café Boissec
12/05 PARIS (75) Fuzzy Sounds Festival – FGO
30/05 STRASBOURG (67) No Vulture

Go East Tour (June 2018)
30/05 STRASBOURG (FR) No Vulture
31/05 NÜRNBERG (D) Muz
01/06 NETPHEN (D) Freak Valley Festival
02/06 DRESDEN (D) Beatpol
03/06 BRATISLAVA (SLO) Fuga
04/06 BUDAPEST (HU) Robot
05/06 TIMISOARA (RU) Reflektor
07/06 SOFIA (BG) Mixtape 5
08/06 THESSALONIKI (GRE) WE Complex
09/06 ATHENS (GRE) Temple
12/06 SARAJEVO (BA) Jazzbina
13/06 ZAGREB (HR) Vintage Industrial Bar
14/06 SCORZE, Venecia (ITA) Novak
15/06 OLTEN (CH) Le Coq D’Or

Summer Festivals :
01/06 NETPHEN (DE) Freaks Valley
06/07 LA SOUTERRAINE (23) Les Rentontres du 23ième type
12/07 VIVEIRO (SP) Resurrection Festival

More Shows to be announced soon…

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

Tags: , , ,

Conviction Release Outworn Single; New Lineup Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

conviction

Kind of an interesting prospect when it comes to French doom outfit Conviction. The band, which started as a one-man project for Olivier “Amduscias” Verron of black metallers Temple of Baal and released its debut recording in 2014, has a new two-songer single out now digitally called Outworn, and bringing together influences from the likes of Warning and Celtic Frost, it also marks the beginning of an expansion of the lineup, with Verron (seen above) apparently joined on the title-track by drummer Rachid Trabelsi as well as a guitarist and bassist whose names haven’t yet been revealed.

My question: how come? Why keep those identities a secret? Verron recorded that 2013 outing on his own, so it’s entirely possible he’s just playing everything on “Outworn” save for the drums and saying that the lineup will be completed as the band moves toward its proper debut full-length later this year, but I’m not sure. Seems like a curious mystery to perpetuate if the positions have actually been filled, right? I’m all for the occasional secret identity and whatnot, but still.

Either way, doomly grimness prevails on “Outworn” and “Tedium,” which was tracked in 2015, and you can hear both songs at the bottom of this post in the embedded Bandcamp player. PR wire info follows:

conviction outworn

CONVICTION (Temple Of Baal members) release new single “Outworn”; new album details announced.

French Doom Metal band CONVICTION, side project of Olivier Verron aka Amduscias from TEMPLE OF BAAL, announces the release of their new digital single «Outworn».

This release is downloadable for free on CONVICTION’s bandcamp: http://www.convictiondoom.bandcamp.com

«Those two tracks deal with time, and the damage it does to both human relationships and self esteem », says Oliver Verron. « I had this pure Doom Metal project in mind since the nineties, but couldn’t find any musicians back then so I finally decided to go for it alone, as a one-man band, first by releasing a demo in 2013».

A one-man band that was doomed to evolve into a real band, as drummer Rachid «Teepee» Trabelsi (Moonskin, Corrosive Elements), joined CONVICTION soon after the release of the single as well as a bass player and a guitar player whose names are still to be announced.

CONVICTION has now started to work on their first album that should be released at the end of the year.

http://www.convictiondoom.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/convictiondoom
http://www.twitter.com/convictiondoom
http://www.instagram.com/convictiondoom
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuecjYaLIrtOIvq9Y8JNhLg

Conviction, Outworn (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Iron Monkey, Deadsmoke, Somnuri, Daira, Kavrila, Ivan, Clara Engel, Alastor, Deadly Vipers, Storm of Void

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Four of the Quarterly Review! Welcome to the downswing. We’re past the halfway point and feeling continually groovy. Thus far it’s been a week of coffee and a vast musical swath that today only reaches even further out from the core notion of what may or may not make a release or a band “heavy.” Is it sound? Is it emotion? Is it concept? Fact is there’s no reason it can’t be all of those things and a ton more, so keep an open mind as you make your way through today’s batch and we’ll all come out of it better people on the other end. Alright? Alright. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Iron Monkey, 9-13

iron monkey 9-13

I’ll admit to some level of skepticism at the prospect of an Iron Monkey reunion without frontman Johnny Morrow, who died in 2002, but as founding guitarist Jim Rushby (now also vocals), bassist Steve Watson (who originally played guitar) and new drummer Brigga revive the influential UK sludge outfit with the nine songs of 9-13 on Relapse, it somehow makes sense that the band’s fuckall and irreverence would extend inward as well. That is, why should Iron Monkey find Iron Monkey an any more sacred and untouchable property than they find anything else? Ultimately, the decision will be up to the listener as to acceptance, but the furies of “OmegaMangler,” “Mortarhex,” “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” and the nine-minute lumber-into-torrent closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” make a pretty resounding argument that if you can’t get down with Iron Monkey as they are today, it’s going to be your loss and that, as ever, they couldn’t care less to see you stick around or see you go. So welcome back.

Iron Monkey on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

 

Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy

deadsmoke mountain legacy

Mountain Legacy, which is the second Deadsmoke album for Heavy Psych Sounds, might be the heaviest release the label has put out to-date. For the band, it marks the arrival of keyboardist Claudio Rocchetti to the former trio, and from the lumbering space of aptly-titled post-intro opener “Endless Cave” to the later creeping lurch of “Wolfcurse,” it’s an outing worthy of comparison to the earlier work of Italian countrymen Ufomammut, but still rooted in the gritty, post-Sleep plod the band elicited on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The central difference seems to be an increase in atmospheric focus, which does well to enrich the listening experience overall, be it in the creepy penultimate interlude “Forest of the Damned” or side A finale “Emperor of Shame.” Whether this progression was driven by Rocchetti’s inclusion in the band or the other way around, it’s a marked showing of growth on a quick turnaround from Deadsmoke and shows them as having a much broader creative reach than expected. All the better because it’s still so devastatingly weighted.

Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Somnuri, Somnuri

somnuri somnuri

To call Somnuri a formidable trio is underselling it. The Brooklynite three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (Blackout, ex-Bezoar, etc.), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (Family), and the noise they make on their Magnetic Eye-released self-titled debut is as progressive as it is intense. Recorded by Jeff Berner and mixed my SanGiacomo, cuts like “Kaizen” and “Same Skies” land with a doomed heft but move with the singular fury of the Northeastern US, and even as eight-minute closer “Through the Dead” balances more rock-minded impulses and seems to touch on a Soundgarden influence, it answers for the ultra-aggro tumult of “Pulling Teeth” just before. A flash of ambience in the drone interlude “Opaque” follows the plodding highlight “Slow Burn,” which speaks to yet another side of Somnuri’s potential – to create spaces as much as to crush them. With an interplay of cleaner vocals, screams, growls and shouts, there’s enough variety to throw off expectation, and where so much of New York’s noise-metal history is about angry single-mindedness, Somnuri’s Somnuri shows even in a vicious moment like “Inhabitant” that there’s more ground to cover than just being really, really, really pissed off.

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records website

 

Daira, Vipreet Buddhi

daira vipreet buddhi

Time to get weird. No. Really weird. In the end, I’m not sure Mumbai semi-improvisationalist troupe Daira did themselves any favors by making their sophomore LP, Vipreet Buddhi, a single 93-minute/16-track outing instead of breaking it into the two halves over which its course is presented – the first being eight distinct songs, the second a flowing single jam broken up over multiple parts – but one way or another, it’s an album that genuinely presents a vibe of its own, taking cues from heavy psych, jazz, funk, classic prog, folk and more as it plays through its bizarre and ambient flow, toying with jarring stretches along the way like the eerie “Apna Ullu Seedha” but so dug in by the time it’s jammed its way into “Dekho Laal Gaya” that it seems like there’s no getting out. It’s an overwhelming and unmanageable offering, but whoever said the avant garde wasn’t supposed to be a challenge? Certainly not Daira, and they clearly have plenty to say. Whatever else you listen to today, I can safely guarantee it won’t sound like this. And that’s probably true of every day.

Daira on Thee Facebooks

Daira on Bandcamp

 

Kavrila, Blight

kavrila blight

Chest-compressing groove and drive will no doubt earn Hamburg four-piece Kavrila’s second album, Blight (on Backbite Records), some comparisons to Mantar, but to dig into tracks like “Gold” and “Each (Part Two)” is to find a surprising measure of atmospheric focus, and even a rage-roller like “Abandon” has a depth to its mix. Though it’s just 24 minutes long, I’d still consider Blight a full-length for the two-sided flow it sets up leading to the aforementioned “Gold” and “Each (Part Two),” both being the longest cut on their respective half of the record in addition to splitting the tracklisting, as well as for the grinding aspects of songs like “Apocalypse,” “Demolish” and “Golem” on side B, the latter of which takes the rhythmic churn of Godflesh to a point of extremity that even the earlier thrust of “Lungs” did little to foretell. There’s a balance of sludge and hardcore elements, to be sure, but it’s the anger that ultimately defines Blight, however coherent it might be (and is) in its violent intent.

Kavrila on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Ivan, Strewn Across Stars

ivan strewn across stars

Employing the session violin services of Jess Randall, the Melbourne-based two-piece of Brodric Wellington (drums/vocals) and Joseph Pap (guitar, bass, keys) – collectively known as Ivan – would seem to be drawing a specific line in the direction of My Dying Bride with their take on death-doom, but the emotionalist influence goes deeper than that on Strewn Across Stars, their second LP. Shades of Skepticism show themselves in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Fear,” which demonstrates a raw production ready for the limited-cassette obscurism the band conjured for their 2016 debut, Aeons Collapse, but nonetheless fleshed out melodically in the guitar and already-noted, deeply prevalent string arrangement. The subsequent “Ethereal” (12:41), “Hidden Dimensions” (12:25) and “Outro” (8:18) dig even further into plodding shattered-self woefulness, with “Hidden Dimensions” providing a brief moment of tempo release before the violin and keys take complete hold in “Outro” to give listeners one last chance to bask in resonant melancholia. A genre-piece, to be sure, but able to stand on its own in terms of personality and patience alike.

Ivan on Thee Facebooks

Ivan on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, Songs for Leonora Carrington

clara-engel-songs-for-leona-carrington

Toronto singer-songwriter Clara Engel pays ambient folk homage to the Mexican surrealist painter/author with the five-tracks of Songs for Leonara Carrington, fleshing out creative and depth-filled arrangements that nonetheless hold fast to the intimate human core beneath. Engel’s voice is of singular character in its melding of gruff fragility, and whether it’s the psychedelic hypnosis of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Birdheaded Queen” or the seemingly minimalist drift of the penultimate “The Ancestor,” her confident melodies float atop gorgeous and sad instrumental progressions that cast an atmosphere of vast reaches. Even the more percussively active centerpiece “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds” feels informed by the gradual wash of guitar melody that takes hold on the prior “Sanctuary for Furies,” and as Engel brings in guest contributors for drums, bass, guitar, theremin and choir vocals alongside her own guitar, pump organ, flute and singing, there seems to be little out of her reach or scope. It is a joy to get lost within it.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Wist Records website

 

Alastor, Blood on Satan’s Claw

alastor-blood-on-satans-claw

I don’t know whether the title-cut of Blood on Satan’s Claw, the new two-songer EP from dirge-doomers Alastor, is leftover from the same sessions that bore their 2017 debut album for Twin Earth Records, Black Magic (review here), but as it’s keeping company with a near-11-minute take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the four-piece’s return is welcome either way. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in their approach in the mere months since the full-length was issued, but that doesn’t mean the swing of “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” the central riff of which owes as much to Windhand as to Sleep as to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” as to Sabbath, isn’t worth digging into all the same, and with psychedelic vocals reminiscent of newer Monolord and flourish of creeper-style organ, its doom resounds on multiple levels leading into the aforementioned cover, which drawls out the classic original arrangement with a wilfully wretched tack that well earns a nod and raised claw. Alastor remain backpatch-ready, seemingly just waiting for listeners to catch on. If these tracks are any indication, they’ll get there.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Alastor on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Vipers, Fueltronaut

deadly-vipers-fueltronaut

Give it a couple minutes to get going and Fueltronaut, the debut full-length from French four-piece Deadly Vipers, is more than happy to serve up energetic post-Kyuss desert rock loyalism that’s true to form in both spirit and production. Shades of earliest Dozer and the wider pre-social media older-school Euro heavy underground show themselves quickly in “Universe,” but in the later mid-paced reach of “Stalker,” there’s more modern bluesy vibing and as the mega-fuzzed “Meteor Valley,” the driving jam of “Supernova,” and the let’s-push-the-vocals-really-high-in-the-mix-for-some-reason “Dead Summer” shove the listener onward with righteous momentum toward pre-outro closer “River of Souls,” each track getting longer as it goes, the melody that emerges there indeed feels like a moment of arrival. My only real complaint? The intro “Fuel Prophecy” and (hidden) outro, “Watch the Road End.” Especially with the immediacy that strikes when “Universe” kicks in and the resonant finish of “River of Souls” at its six-minute mark, having anything before the one and after the other seems superfluous. A minor quibble on an impressive debut (one could also ramble about cartoon tits on the cover, but what’s the point?) and showcase of potential from an exciting newcomer outfit clearly assured of the style for which they’re aiming.

Deadly Vipers on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Vipers on Bandcamp

 

Storm of Void, War Inside You

storm-of-void-war-inside-you

Tokyo duo Storm of Void make their full-length debut with the nine-track/48-minute War Inside You, a full-length that might first snag attention owing to guest vocal spots from Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway and Jawbox’s J. Robbins, but has no trouble holding that same attention with its progressive instrumental turns and taut execution. Released by Hostess Entertainment, it’s instrumental in bulk, with eight-string guitarist George Bodman (Bluebeard) and drummer Dairoku Seki (envy) coming together to deliver brisk and aggressive prog metal centered around chugging riffs and a tension that seems to take hold in “Into the Circle” and let up only for the momentary “Interlude” in the midsection before closer “Ghosts of Mt. Sleepwalker” finally allows for some exhalation. As for the guest spots, they’re nothing to complain about, and they break up the proceedings nicely placed as they are, but if Storm of Void are going to hook you, it’s going to be on their own merits, which are plentiful.

Storm of Void on Thee Facebooks

Hostess Entertainment website

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Gruntruck, The Dead Ends, Albatross Overdrive, High Priestess, Monolith Cult, Kayleth & Favequaid, Black Wail, Psychic Lemon, Ixion, Rattlesnake

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Three of the Quarterly Review! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling great. Plowing through, hearing a ton of good stuff. The week is rolling and though it’s most definitely caused me to be a neglectful husband and father for the last 72 hours (so far!), at very least the music is killer. That’s something, right? I didn’t really have a theme in picking today’s batch, but there are some commonalities between some of the inclusions all the same. See if you can find them, like one of those old puzzles in a Highlights magazine in your orthodontist’s wood-paneled office. Ready? Okay, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Gruntruck, Gruntruck

gruntruck-gruntruck

Held back due to legal issues with their original label, Roadrunner, the self-titled third album from Seattle groove-grungers Gruntruck hits like an open time-capsule nearly two decades after the fact of its recording: a little dusty but full of vitality and potential for what could’ve been. With a tad more crunch than the likes of Soundgarden and a crunch less TAD than TAD, Gruntruck found a middle-space between the melodies of their age and scene and heavier impulses, and if songs like “Trip,” the post-Nirvana “Build a Hole,” and the later “Spy” sound dated, well, they should. They are dated. It’s an album that was recorded over 20 years ago. That does nothing to take away from the quality of the songwriting, however, as closer “Flang” shows by demonstrating how thin the line between grunge and heavy rock has always been in the first place, let alone how fluidly Gruntruck were able to cross from one side to the other.

Gruntruck on Thee Facebooks

Found Recordings website

 

The Dead Ends, Deeper the Dark the Brighter We Shine

the-dead-ends-deeper-the-dark-the-brighter-we-shine

This warm and psychedelically charmed debut from Kavala, Greece’s The Dead Ends works quickly to deliver its cumbersome title-line in opener “Memory Ship (Sails at Dawn)” amid a build of organ-laced Doors-style drama, but the overarching spirit of the Sound Effect Records release is nonetheless patient and fluid. The keyboard work of vocalist Giorgos Sechlidis proves to be a major standout factor on the playful “Narri-E Narri-O” as rhythms and melodic elements out of Greek folk rear their head, and as guitarist Serios Savvaidis and drummer Dimitris Apostolidis provide vocal support throughout, the nine tracks of Deeper the Dark, the Brighter We Shine envelop with a depth that corresponds to their outward reach, still based around pop structures practically and conceptually, but feeling open and resolved to remain that way all the same. The jangly “Peter 2:18” closes out by building into a melodic wash, as if to underscore the potential within this exciting outfit’s budding stylistic nuance.

The Dead Ends on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

Albatross Overdrive, Keep it Running

albatross-overdrive-keep-it-running

Issued in 2016, Albatross Overdrive’s second full-length pulls together a sans-pretense 31 minutes of barroom-style heavy rock born of the California desert but not necessarily indebted solely to its aesthetic so much as to boozy swing and chug and meaner, engine-revving impulses. “Fire Dancer” and “Higher” make impressions early with catchy choruses and hard-delivered riffs, a touch of metal to the latter particularly, and the later “Preaching Love Not War” boasts a highlight performance from bassist Mark Abshire, formerly of Fu Manchu, while gritty vocalist Art Campos leads the five-piece – completed by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and drummer Rodney Peralta – through the grunge-chug of “Earth Mother,” recalling Alice in Chains’ “Again” in its cadence momentarily, though ultimately driven along its own course, headed into closer “Neva,” which finishes the album in top form just as it might cap a raucous live set on any given and much-improved Friday evening.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive website

 

High Priestess, Demo

high-priestess-demo

Los Angeles trio High Priestess were recently snagged by Ripple Music for the release of their impending debut album this year, and on the strength of this five-track demo, one could hardly argue. Tonally rich, perfectly paced in its rollout, melodically centered and meditative with surprising flashes of metallic noise, cuts like 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Firefly” offer psychedelic immersion and a sense of worldmaking rare in a band’s first long-player, let alone their initial demo. Weighted low end gives Demo an earthy sensibility, and there’s definitely a desert-style aspect to “Take the Blame” and “Mother Forgive Me,” but the intertwining vocal melodies of guitarist/organist Katie Gilchrest and bassist Mariana Fiel atop Megan Mullins’ drums provide a spaciousness well across the line of transcendent into ethereal psychedelia. Likewise, after the salvo of “Firefly” and its nine-minute companion “Despise,” the peaceful, organ-laced closer “Earth Dive” draws emphasis on sonic diversity with its patient build and underlying command. Especially as demos go, High Priestess’ is dangerously coherent.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

High Priestess on Instagram

 

Monolith Cult, Gospel of Despair

monolith-cult-gospel-of-despair

From the first listen onward, the hardest thing about putting on Monolith Cult’s second full-length, Gospel of Despair, is actually letting the seven tracks play without constantly interrupting them by saying “hell yes.” Whether it’s the hook of opener “Disconnection Syndrome,” the subsequent plod of the title-track that follows, the massive slowdown that hits about a minute into “Sympathy for the Living” as it moves into its chorus, or the Candlemassian finale chug and stomp of “Death Means Nothing,” the Bradford, UK, five-piece’s follow-up to their 2013 debut, Run from the Light (review here), dwells in similar terrain between righteous classic metal and doom as Cruz del Sur denizens Argus, and the band are likewise firm in their purposes and assured in their delivery. “King of all that’s Lost” feels exceptionally weighted in its impact, but set next to the faster motion in the first half of the penultimate “Complicit in Your Abuse,” it feeds into an overarching flow and sense of leather-on-fistpump-or-headbang-take-your-pick-ready audience response. Hell yes? Oh, hell yes.

Monolith Cult on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Records

 

Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six

kayleth-favequaid-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-six

In bringing together Verona’s Kayleth and Palermo’s Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six works more on a direct theme than some of the other installments in the impressive and impactful series from Ripple Music. But if there’s a particularly nation’s scene worth highlighting in the heavy rock underground, the emergent riffy movement in Italy makes a riotous case for itself as Favequaid bull-in-a-china-shop their way through the nine-minute “Hypochondria” on side B or Kayleth unfold the highlight nod and melody of “The Survivor” earlier, hitting a mark of spatial weight that’s as much about its crash as reach. Starting with the atmospheric pulse of “Desert Caravan” and following up “The Survivor” with the melodic push of “Magnetar,” Kayleth come across as the more progressive of the two outfits, but with the brash finale of “First” rounding out, Favequaid help put emphasis on the underrated diversity within Italian heavy rock on the whole, and maybe that was the idea in the first place.

Kayleth on Thee Facebooks

Favequaid on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Wail, Chromium Homes

black-wail-chromium-homes

Though it gradually comes to life around an intro of Hendrixian noodling at the start of “They,” its opener and longest track (immediate points), the third EP from New Jersey’s Black Wail, Chromium Homes, isn’t through that same song before a decidedly Dio-esque “lookout!” is tossed into the pot. Abrasive, sludgy screaming follows. So yeah, it gets weird pretty quick, but that turns out to be the fun of the 27-minute six-tracker, since it just as easily digs back into languid wah-led groove or lets its keyboards flesh out classic heavy rocking melodies. “Thee Ghost” chugs metallic before stepping back to a harmonized a capella midsection and swinging to its finish, and the title-track basks in heavy blues rock like nothing ever happened – the perfect setup for the nastier “The Dead Man’s Hand,” and weirdo bounce-into-punk-thrust of “Radioactive Mutation” that follow. And because why the hell not: a closing doomed-out cover of “Norwegian Wood.” Somehow that was the only thing missing. Black Wail are getting strange and daring you to do the same. If you think you’re up for it, maybe you are.

Black Wail on Bandcamp

Rhyme and Reason Records

 

Psychic Lemon, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

Psychic-Lemon-Frequency-Rhythm-Distortion-Delay

Prepare for spacedelic immersion. Somewhere there’s a countdown happening and waiting on the other end of it is Psychic Lemon’s sophomore LP, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, the title of which reads like the recipe from which its five tracks have been constructed. The 41-minute sprawler from the London-based trio sets itself to the task of atmospheric breakout with 8:31 opener “Exit to the Death Lane,” and while it’s hard not to be drawn immediately to a track called “International Fuzz Star” – let alone one that’s almost 10 minutes long – one skips the cosmic-grunge shuffle of “Hey Droog!” and the sped-up Sonic Youthism of centerpiece “You’re No Good” at one’s own peril. They tease tension in the kick drum but ultimately end up soothing in meandering closer “Satori Disko,” but the progressive threat has been laid all the same, and it says something about their accomplishment overall that even in the final moments of Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, one can’t be certain where Psychic Lemon might be headed next.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Ixion, Return

ixion return

Brittany, France-based Ixion is a project spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/growler/recording engineer/cover artist Julien Prat, and Return (on Finisterian Dead End) is the band’s third full-length. With clean vocals contributed by Yannick Dilly (who also mixed), it captures a contemplative and majestic balance of hope and sorrow, woeful in its extremity but bright-toned in its sprawling lead guitar figures in pieces like “Into Her Light” and the later “Stranger.” This meld fascinates throughout the nine-song/47-minute run, but it’s the poise of execution of all these ideas that make cuts like “Back Home” and the electronics-infused “Contact” stand out and recall some of the best moments of mid-period Katatonia, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Out of the Dark” onward, Return makes plain its self-awareness and resilience in capturing its formidable stylistic intention in the reality of the recording. It is a true work of beauty-in-darkness and affecting in both its scope and raw emotionalism.

Ixion on Thee Facebooks

Finisterian Dead End website

 

Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie

rattlesnake outlaw boogie

It’s just three songs, but Rattlesnake’s debut demo, Outlaw Boogie (also discussed here), was enough of an aesthetic mission statement all the same to wind up on my list of 2017’s best short releases, and with the swing and swagger provided by drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass, the classic-style riffing of guitarists Blake Charlton (Ramming Speed) and JP Gilbert (also vocals) and the wah bass Don Berger brings to “The Reason Why,” well, the reason why is frickin’ obvious. The New York-based newcomers capture a bright ‘70s vibe not dissimilar from The Golden Grass’ self-titled debut, but less serene and more urgent, more charged in its purposes on the whole, and dudelier in that okay-now-it’s-time-to-grow-a-mustache kind of way. Unsurprisingly, Outlaw Boogie is almost maddeningly catchy and cohesive and clear in its direction and intent, and the band seem to arrive in their conceptual foundation ready to move forward onto the next stage of their development. The only reason I call the three-tracker a demo at all and not an EP is because the band does. Otherwise there’s very little about it that doesn’t already denote it as a professional-grade work.

Rattlesnake on Thee Facebooks

In for the Kill Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Greyfell, Horsepower

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

greyfell horsepower

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘King of Xenphobia’ by Greyfell. Their Horsepower album is out Jan. 12 via Argonauta Records, Soza and Atypeek Music.]

It wasn’t really until the rolling noisefest that closing track “Hervé” became that Greyfell‘s 2015 debut, I Got the Silver Vol. 1 really did anything to portend the band they would be just a few years later. The bulk of that album used more straightforward heavy rock as a foundation for weaving through a couple different styles, from alternative heavy to meaner, more punk-ish fare. Now, the Rouen, France-based outfit make a significant turn of sound with their second full-length, Horsepower, and find themselves aligned to Atypeek Music, Argonauta Records and Soza for the cause, trimming four minutes off the first record’s already manageable 38, and more importantly, delving into rich, headphone-ready progressions of densely-packed, organ-laced heavy post-rock tonal wash, seeming to roll out patiently even when uptempo across five tracks that reach across styles even as they find such solid footing in a molten rhythmic foundation.

Now comprised of the first-name-only lineup of vocalist Hugo, guitarist Clément, bassist Boubakar and drummer Thierry, it’s reportedly the addition of keyboards that allowed this shift to take place, but it’s such a drastic turn of style that one can’t help but read purpose into it. That is, it didn’t just happen one day that somebody showed up to practice with a Korg and made the resonant tones of “Spirit of the Bear” happen. Or if they did, there was definitely some discussion afterward about the direction in which Greyfell were headed as a result. Even with the record preceding, Horsepower carries the feel of a second debut for the freshness of approach it brings from Greyfell, and if, like me, you didn’t hear I Got the Silver Vol. 1 when it came out, Horsepower sets so much of its own context that one wonders if the underlying message isn’t the band casting its songs forward as a true sonic identity for themselves.

The album takes place over two clearly-intentioned vinyl sides, the first comprised of three shorter pieces, the latter of two longer ones, and to hear the fuzz from the guitar of Clément at the start of opener “People’s Temple,” one might think there’s some continuity between the debut and the sophomore outing, but soon enough, the track begins to unfurl its breadth. Hugo‘s vocal approach contributes immediately to the sense of space in the leadoff piece and will persist in doing so throughout the songs that follow on side A, “Horses” and “No Love,” a blown-out effect calling to mind some of Ice Dragon‘s vibe, but subtly engaging a swath of growls and delivery styles that grow into a theme around which the lumbering instrumentalism takes place. He looses a first raw-throated scream circa 4:45 into “People’s Temple” that foretells of some of what “Spirit of the Bear” will have to offer in a mirror at the start of side B, but it’s in the heft of the layers packed into the song itself that the opener makes its major impression.

greyfell

So even as they embark on exploring these new textures, Greyfell do well to bring a sense of balance to their style. Though shorter, “Horses” is even more melodic and swirls to a thrilling head of chaos before evening itself out near its conclusion, finding resolve in cacophony and not only providing a transition point between “People’s Temple” and the nodding centerpiece “No Love,” but doing so with a purpose of its own as well derived from a tight and linear progression almost imperceptible on first listen but which plays out gracefully nonetheless. “No Love” seems to find even standing but at about 3:30 moves into a section of malevolent whispers backed by atmospheric shouting for maximum creep-out while speaking to a theatrical element the band credits to black metal but could just as easily derive from an art rock influence of one sort or another. In any case, amid the modern prog doom winding riff earlier and the layered melodies of vocals, it’s yet another turn Greyfell pull off ably with Horsepower seemingly as a result of simply having the confidence to make it happen.

One might say the same of how the eight-minutes-apiece pair of “Spirit of the Bear” and closer “King of Xenophobia” function on side B — the first as the most extreme moment on the offering and the latter as the most progressive. Perhaps in part because of the cover art that adorns it, or because of the diversity of aesthetic overall, it’s hard to think of any single moment on Horsepower as being “dark,” but if anything comes close, it’s “Spirit of the Bear,” which takes a meaner turn first in its chorus and then slows into a semi-blackened doom just past its midpoint en route to even nastier sludgy bombast and roll. The real surprise comes with a chant-style melody tossed in near the finish, and that would seem to be what ties “Spirit of the Bear” most to “King of Xenophobia,” which, while starting off no less languid in tempo, breaks in its verse to a vastness that the more claustrophobic piece before it largely eschewed. As the organ takes on a horror-derived spirit before the four-minute mark, a choral effect surrounds Hugo that denotes the transition into what will be Horsepower‘s final push, lurching to life via drums as a melee of feedback and noise surrounds before the chorus reemerges.

That underscoring of songcraft feels significant particularly in the band’s closing argument, though frankly, with their having made such a leap between I Got the Silver Vol. 1 and this album, I wouldn’t dare predict where they might head after Horsepower. If indeed this is them finding themselves sonically, they’ve done well in hitting on an approach that leaves them room to grow an individualized sensibility while maintaining a core of songcraft — “King of Xenophobia” demonstrates this perhaps most plainly of all — and should they decide to reinvent themselves once more for a third long-player, they’ve no doubt learned some crucial lessons from the experience of putting these tracks together. Either way, mark that a win. From a listener’s standpoint perhaps all the more, since the depths to which Horsepower plunges feature such character and ambient vitality, setting the familiar and the distinct against one another in fluid and cohesive fashion.

Greyfell on Thee Facebooks

Greyfell on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting?: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Weird

Posted in Reviews on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Frank Sabbath Are You Waiting

It’s a hell of a question, if you think about it. Well, are you waiting? And if so, for what? The implication would seem to be that French weirdo rock trio Frank Sabbath is directly addressing their audience, but even then, it’s pretty open as to what they could be asking. Are we waiting for the three-piece themselves? Are we waiting for Are You Waiting?, which is their third album behind last year’s Telluric Wanderers (discussed here) and their 2015 self-titled debut (review here)? Or is it a question about the question itself, as in, what are we waiting for? And if so, what’s the answer? Shouldn’t we just dive in, to the four-song/34-minute long-player and just about everything else?

Are they asking about the way we’re living our lives, or is it like when you’re at the grocery store and you can’t tell if someone is actually on the checkout line or if they’re just mesmerized by the slew of magazine covers and candybars left there to be impulse purchases. Excuse me, are you waiting? To some degree or other, aren’t we all?

The answers aren’t exactly forthcoming throughout Are You Waiting?, but the immediate affect the question has lingers and would seem to play directly into the band’s intention to shake their listeners out of a comfort zone. With a parabolic structure of two six-minute tracks — opener “Goat” (6:40) and closer “Sasume” (6:00) — bookending two longer jammers in “Lazarus” (11:25) and “Take the Lead” (10:09), the record sets itself up for mirrored-style vinyl sides, but works with a linear flow as well, each piece seeming to offer something of its own to the overarching freaked-out entirety.

The expectation going into Are You Waiting?, which arrives in a handmade CD sleeve under the banner of the band’s own Bermuda Cruise Records imprint, shouldn’t necessarily be that Frank Sabbath — who continue to have very much picked the correct moniker — will never lock into a solid groove together and rock out because they’re too busy being oddballs. Apart perhaps from “Sasume,” the abundant and maybe-Japanese lyrics of which seem like a questionable choice at best, politically and in terms of the raw sonic outcome, there’s very little on Are You Waiting? to evoke that check-us-out-we’re-weird, post-Mr. Bungle performative sort of experimentalism. It’s more about sonic quirk.

Despite “Sasume” and despite the fact that “Lazarus” and “Take the Lead” both have lyrics, it’s probably fair to say the album is mostly instrumental, since that’s where the bulk of its impression is made, and as they start off “Goat” with an immediate freakout before guitarist Jude Mas, bassist Guillaume Jankowski and drummer Baptiste Reig tap into a kind of uptempo, low-end-driven surf rock, the spirit is immersive in its blend of grunge skronk and offkilter rhythmic turns. Maybe more immersive than one might think, in fact. Subtly, Mas and Jankowski set a theme of interplay between the guitar and bass that will continue into “Lazarus” and be most effectively put to use in “Take the Lead,” and this happens with a bit of subterfuge via the overarching groove being propelled by Reig‘s drums, which by the time they get to the opener’s fifth minute is practically space rock in its thrust.

frank sabbath (photo robin levet)

They cap that launch with another freakout to mirror that at the start, and it’s not until a couple minutes into the fuzz-drenched “Lazarus” that the first lyrics on Are You Waiting? arrive, following nuanced lead guitar work and a corresponding fluidity of bass that in tone and in terms of what Jankowski does to complement the work of Mas and Reig both, qualifies as being of the “must-hear” variety. They slow down at about three minutes in to make room for the verse over a heavy psychedelic drift, but are soon enough on their way again, and though they might seem to meander, I’m not at all convinced Frank Sabbath don’t have an underlying plan at work in their extended solos and instrumental stretches, making their work progressive rather than haphazard or merely the manifestation of jams put to tape.

“Take the Lead” further demonstrates this idea with a fluidity that not only makes it a highlight of Are You Waiting?, but sets Frank Sabbath apart from the bulk of European heavy psych in terms of their chemistry and the approach they undertake, which seems as much inspired by Samsara Blues Experiment as Zappa himself. But it’s ultimately the patience of the execution itself that one finds most encouraging when it comes to the basic listening experience, and that makes the goof-off rush of “Sasume” something of an atmospheric crash landing as it rounds out the LP.

This is obviously by design, and I’m not going to hold their having a fun against Frank Sabbath or anyone else for that matter — at least not most of the time — but there’s something about the way the Japanese language is used in “Sasume” that comes through more like someone doing an impression of old samurai movies than actually speaking the language. Lyrics are spoken, seemingly back and forth between the band members, while beneath they do lock into a more than solid groove, once more held together by the bass and drums as the guitar goes off where it will. “Sasume” rolls out a stoner rock-style instrumental hook and spends the final two of its six minutes first in a layered guitar solo and then with a late inclusion of keys/organ that signals a rhythmic turn into the last big push that ends.

It is the nature of experimentation that sometimes ideas work and sometimes they don’t, and while I’m not prepared to call “Sasume” a dud for the effect its increased pace has on the final statement the album makes overall, it feels nearly like an element of minstrelsy is at play, and even if that’s born of an appreciation for the Japanese language and culture, it’s almost too easy to read it into another context. Still, and again, Frank Sabbath acquit themselves well throughout Are You Waiting?, and while we may never get the response directly to that question, the sense by the time the record is done is that the trio have only just started to really explore the heights their chemistry might attain and the reaches they might yet conjure as songwriters.

In that sense, yes, we are waiting, but they’ve certainly provided plenty to chew on in the meantime in their most realized work to-date.

Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting? (2017)

Frank Sabbath on Thee Facebooks

Frank Sabbath on Bandcamp

Bermuda Cruise Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pillars Premiere “Pyres and Gallows” Official Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pillars

Based out of Nice, France, and given every now and again to throwing in a Celtic Frost-style ‘ough!’ to signal a turn toward more extreme and shouted fare, the four-piece Pillars recently issued their debut EP, Pyres and Gallows, and with its four tracks began an exploration of traditionalist doom marked out by its overarching sense of atmosphere in the guitar. Setting its own context in the growls of “Cult Seeker” or the classic-horror vibes that persist in opener “Green Magik Ritual” — somewhere between Goatsnake and Cathedral, that one is — the EP knocks on the door of full-length territory at 33 lumber-prone minutes, and particularly in the early unfolding of “Dirty Whoreshippers” and the more patient, slower 10-minute closing title-track, calls to mind the earliest output by now-defunct UK outfit The Wounded Kings.

Now, that’s not a comparison to be made lightly, either in terms of the band The Wounded Kings started out as, the band they became, or the many tumultuous steps they had to undertakepillars pyres and gallows to get from one to the other, but as the throaty but melodic echoes of vocalist Klem tops JJ‘s crashing drums in “Pyres and Gallows,” with Djé‘s guitar and Disaster‘s bass ensuring that the mournful arrangement is delivered with due viscosity, I think it’s a fair enough line to draw, and it speaks as well to the progressive potential in general from Pillars, which would only seem to offer further avenues of possible exploration with the more extreme elements put to use at various points throughout. The darkness of the ambience and the nuance that Pillars discover within traditional doom could very well lead them on their own path over time, but wherever that might end up, they’ve sent a clear signal with this first offering that it’s going to be worth finding out.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Pyres and Gallows” as a video premiere to coincide with the EP’s official limited cassette release on Seeing Red Records. The label is also hosting the full stream of the tracks via Bandcamp, and they’re at the bottom of the post as well, for further digging.

Enjoy:

Pillars, “Pyres and Gallows” official video premiere

Disaster on “Pyres and Gallows”:

“Pyres and Gallows” is essentially about the Middle Ages, the Inquisition, no rules, and chaos everywhere. In the end, everything ends up burning… “Pyres and Gallows” is our favorite song to play live: epic, massive and chaotic ending. Our new material is definitely more in this vein, less ‘stoner rock’ than older songs… darker and heavier.”

Harnessing the powers of anguish and majesty simultaneously, PILLARS carve a tortured place in the psyche of doom and sludge with an unshakably focused assault on the senses. Harsh, brooding, and calculated, the music drags your soul through the muck and buries you, your screams a part of the choir of devastation. Sacrificing the vintage and retro flare commonplace in the genre as of late and replacing it with the vile discomfort of a forgotten past, Pillars bring only agony and promise only torment. Prepare your grave.

Pillars was formed in 2014 by ex-members of extreme bands from the South of France such as SVART CROWN, IMPERIAL SODOMY, ADDICTED and UNCLEMOSH. When the band began, their sound displayed more of a dark stoner vein, but when Clément (vocals) joined the band in March 2015, they chose to alter their path towards slow crushing doom. “Pyres and Gallows” contains a bit of the old style while teasing their newer direction, both a promising look at what is to come in 2018.

PILLARS is:
Disaster – Bass
Djé – Guitars
JJ – Drums
Klem – Vocals

Pillars, Pyres and Gallows (2017)

Pillars on Thee Facebooks

Pillars on Bandcamp

Seeing Red Records on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Instagram

Seeing Red Records website

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Magma Announce Retrospektïw I & II and III Due Nov. 24 on Southern Lord

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Progressive, psychedelic and interplanetary legends Magma will play a Southern Lord showcase in Amsterdam at the end of this month. The impetus in part behind the appearance is the impending release of Retrospektïw I & II and III a 3LP compilation of compilations — because when you’re Magma you can do that kind of thing and put out a record that spells out and as well as uses an ampersand and have it make sense. Also you can make up your own language. Also pretty much anything else you want at this point because, well, because you’re friggin’ Magma and Planet Earth is lucky to have you.

Southern Lord has the comp o’ comps out on Nov. 24 and will host the French mainstays on Oct. 29 at a label showcase with Circle, SunnO))) and — in awesome contrast — Unsane, among others. Sure to be a raucous night. Info follows on that and the release, via the PR wire:

MAGMA Georges Besnier

MAGMA To Release Volume I & II And III 3xLP Collection Via Southern Lord November 24th; Group To Appear At The Southern Lord Showcase Evening In Amsterdam On October 29th

MAGMA, one of the most influential of all French bands, will release the Retrospektïw 3xLP collection, including Retrospektï? Volume I & II and Retrospektï? Volume III via Southern Lord on November 24th. The collection will be made available as a limited pressing of 1500 hand-numbered copies, remastered by Brad Boatright, including original artwork by Eva Nahon, also including the classic comic strip by Solé, Dister, and Gotlib depicting MAGMA’s trials and tribulations.

Southern Lord and MAGMA’s collaboration doesn’t end there, as the label has invited the group to perform at their label showcase on October 29th at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, alongside Sunn O))), Unsane, Circle, Okkultokrati, Wolfbrigade, Big|Brave, and Vitamin X. The official show poster artwork was created by Savage Pencil and Eva Nahon.

Southern Lord Europe Presents:
10/29/2017 Melkweg – Amsterdam, NL w/ Magma, Sunn O))), Unsane, more

The first ten years of MAGMA were celebrated on three memorable evenings in June 1980 at the Olympia theatre in Paris. This retrospective, reuniting most of the musicians who had performed in the group, was issued as two albums; the Retrospektï? I & II double-LP and Retrospektï? III LP. Issued first, Retrospektï? III comprises three titles. “Retrovision” is a long piece in the style of the album Attahk, in which the vocalists Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa, and Maria Popkiewicz turn in a blazing performance over a driving rhythm section. There is a supercharged version of “Hhai,” in which the trio of Lockwood, Paganotti, and Widemann works miracles. And finally, “La Dawotsin,” where, in a more muted register, the voice of Christian Vander triumphs through its mastery and profound sensibility.

Recorded, like Retrospektï? III, during the soirees at Olympia in June 1980, Retrospektï? I & II is an absolutely fundamental album in which “Theusz Hamtaahk” — the first movement of the trilogy of the same name — is presented for the first time. The second and third movements, “Wurdah Itah” and “Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh,” were of course already well known. Although played in concert since 1974, Christian Vander had waited for years before recording it for posterity as he wanted every note to be as beautiful, magical, essential and definitive as possible. It is with the same respect for his music that he releases here the most successful version of “Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh,” considered outstanding on account of two incredible improvisation from Bernard Paganotti and Didier Lockwood. Klaus Blasquiz, who did not perform on Retrospektï? III, is the lead vocalist on this version – and justifiably so, since he was indeed the MAGMA singer who first sang these two masterworks.

There’s no doubt about it, MAGMA has left a legacy of music that defies any of the standard and convenient classifications of rock, operating instead in a realm of their own creation. Southern Lord looks forward to being part of their ever-evolving story…

http://www.magmamusic.org
http://www.southernlord.com
http://southernlord.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/twatterlord
https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin

Magma, “Slag Tanz” live at Roadburn 2014

Tags: , , , , ,