Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks

Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

bison-you-are-not-the-ocean-you-are-the-patient

Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

Bison on Thee Facebooks

Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

obelyskkh-the-providence

Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

earth-electric-vol-1-solar

Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

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After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

Deaf Radio on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

saturndust rlc

The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

Saturndust on Thee Facebooks

Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

birnam wood triumph of death

Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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Obelyskkh to Release The Providence this Spring; Album Trailer Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

obelyskkh

German sludge riffers Obelyskkh — who get an A+ for their moniker and a B- for spelling — will issue their fourth album, The Providence, this Spring via Exile on Mainstream. I haven’t reviewed anything they’ve done since 2012, but I’ve bought all three of their records to date, so I’ll look forward to picking up this fourth one as well. Nothing against writing about them, it just hasn’t happened in half a decade apparently. Not like I’ve been avoiding it. You’d think I’d post every time they cut a fart, just so I could type their name out again in some kind of half-hearted phoenetic self-promotion. Some things I just can’t figure out.

Anyhoo, they’ve got a trailer posted for The Providence that actually seems to give a sense of the vibe of the album as a whole, rather than just teasing one track or a part of a track or something. From what I can tell, it sounds like the cover looks. Dark, electric, heavy, vaguely phallic, and so on. Dig in and see what you think, then prepare your head if you’re in the US to wait until June for it to come out. Europe gets it in April. Europe gets all the good stuff. Especially in April.

The PR wire has it as follows:

obelyskkh the providence

OBELYSKKH: German Sludge Act Completes Fourth Album, The Providence; Exile On Mainstream Posts Trailer + Preorders

Three years in the making, Germany’s doom/sludge kingpins OBELYSKKH have completed their fourth full-length, and are preparing The Providence for release through their steady label home of Exile On Mainstream this Spring.

The Providence was again recorded and mixed by Andy Naucke and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Tragedy, High On Fire, From Ashes Rise, Integrity), and again sees cover art crafted by Sebastian Feld/Marginal Ink. The album will be released on all digital platforms, CD, and 2xLP with three sides of music and a Side D etching.

OBELYSKKH’s The Providence will see release on April 21st in Europe, and on June 2nd through new AISA/Red/Sony stateside distribution in the US. European physical preorders are available now at THIS LOCATION. Stand by for US and digital preorders, new tracks from the album, and more to be released in the weeks ahead.

The Providence Track Listing:
1. The Providence
2. Raving Ones
3. Northern Lights
4. NYX
5. Aeons Of Iconoclasm
6. Marzanna

The title of the new OBELYSKKH excursion might remind one of H. P. Lovecraft’s iconic poem, and you’d not be wrong, as these classic words provided inspiration for lyrical content and the artwork for The Providence. But that’s only one dimension. The other is illustrated almost perfectly by French revolutionist Victor Hugo: “Above all, you can believe in Providence in either of two ways, either as thirst believes in the orange, or as the ass believes in the whip.” The band lived by this message, beating the record out of themselves, fighting an uphill battle.

Following the 2013 release of the band’s groundbreaking third album, Hymn To Pan, which struck less than one year after its predecessor, White Lightnin’, the Franconian doomsters found themselves in a state of turmoil and a line-up change with bass player Dirty Dave being replaced by Seb Duster. These ups and downs, alongside the massive honesty and emotionality in the band’s routines, developed monstrous pressure, which is sonically channeled into this album, The Providence surging with massive weight, groove, and darkness. The album sees OBELYSKKH leaving huge parts of their former approach behind. Less psychedelic, with more groove — not stoner rock, but more on the side of doom than grueling sludge – yet still delivered in a crushing maelstrom.

OBELYSKKH has booked a run of European tour dates in conjunction with the album’s release, with shows in Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria from April 7th through April 20th, with more shows to be announced throughout the months ahead.

OBELYSKKH Tour Dates:
4/07/2017 Ebrietas – Zürich, CH
4/08/2017 Goldgrube – Kassel, DE
4/09/2017 Cafe de Jack – Eindhoven, NL
4/10/2017 Music City – Antwerp, BE
4/11/2017 Nexus – Braunschweig, DE
4/12/2017 Kulturbahnhof – Jena, DE
4/20/2017 Nihilistic Arts Festival – Wilhering, AU

http://www.facebook.com/TheObelyskkhRitual
https://obelyskkh.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/OBELYSKKH_DOOM
http://www.mainstreamrecords.de

Obelyskkh, The Providence album trailer

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Obelyskkh to Release Hymn to Pan this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

German doomly foursome Obelyskkh left an impression with last year’s White Lightnin’ sophomore full-length (track stream here), and the band just announced the quick turnaround on a follow-up. Titled Hymn to Pan, the third Obelyskkh album is set for release in August in the band’s native Germany and September in Europe and the US. If the last record is anything to go by, Exile on Mainstream (who will be handling this release as they did the last) aren’t kidding when they say it’s “nodding time.”

Get ye informed:

OBELYSKKH thunder growls on the horizon !!!!!

Retrieving their sound in a much more thronging way than ever before Obelyskkh seem to be picking up speed and urgency. And this not only musically but also in their pure existence. Of course, parts are still there – the bridging leads sit enthroned on swarm-like riffage, vocals meander between cutting serenity and harsh shrieks, giving the music enough time to breathe and adding an unusual element to what you would expect from a band coming out of the Sludge/ Psychedelic Rock scene. So far so familiar. But it doesn’t end here. Obelyskkh manage the impossible at ease: maintaining a trademark while simultaneously adding another complexity, another approach, another dimension and thus reaching freedom in a stunning way. It’s a rare treat nowadays and a venture to unbuckle yourself from expectations and strictly focus on an organic creation – especially for a band existing only for a few years (but already having 3 albums under their belt).

Theory aside – beware of a fucking riff-fest! This album contains enough for any other band live on for 10 years. Nodding tyme!

Release Dates:
30 August 2013 (Germany)
2 September (Europe + UK)
24 September (USA)

Hymn to Pan Tracklisting
01 Hymn To Pan
02 The Ravens
03 The Man Within
04 Heavens Architrave
05 Horse
06 Revelation: The Will To Nothingness

The album is released on CD, digital and 2LP, containing 3 sides. Side D is a blank mirror and gives a great tool to adjust your vinyl player’s antiskating properly.

Obelyskkh, “Abysmal Desert Cavern” Live in Leipzig, 2013

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audiObelisk: German Doomers Obelyskkh Premiere “Mount Nysa” from White Lightnin’

Posted in audiObelisk on September 13th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The band is Obelyskkh, not to be confused with The Obelisk, which is the site you’re on right now, and the song is “Mount Nysa,” which comes from the German psych doomers’ new album, White Lightnin’, not to be confused with their prior full-length, which was also called Mount Nysa, and which was released last year. Everybody on board?

Well, you probably should be, because the track is some heavy shit. Obelyskkh brew up a potent cask of doom and heavy psychedelia, crafting ambience as weighted as the lumbering riffs they use to offset it. In its six and a half minutes, “Mount Nysa” builds to a massive, apocalyptic apex with blown-out vocals that remind of some fanatical chanting — never far from a sense of ritual, but still grounded in sludge — like if your totalitarian nightmares came true. But there’s still room for melodic complexity as well, and the guitars of Crazy Woitek Broslowski and Stuart “The Whiz Kid” West display that with a fluidity that in no way contradicts the riff-led groove at the core of the song.

Deadpan vocals highlight the monotony of the plod following the ethereal beginning, and as they gradually join in, bassist Dirty Dave (not to be confused with Dirty Dave of The Glasspack) and drummer Steve “The Krusher” Paradise both underscore and thicken the lumbering root appeal. Excellent and engrossing.

I count myself lucky to be able to host “Mount Nysa” from White Lightnin’ for streaming on the player below. The album is due out Sept. 28 in Germany, Oct. 8 in the rest of Europe and Oct. 16 in the US. More release info (courtesy of the label) follows the stream.

Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Available on CD in a high-glossy varnished 4panel digifile and on 180 g Double LP in a gatefold LP cover  (LP is limited to 500 copies)

LP contains download coupon for the whole album incl. the non-LP tracks “The Enochian Keys” and “Abysmal Desert Cavern”

“White Lightning” is a monstrous pound of sonic heaviness, psychedelic approaches and emotional riffage – ingredients that, if mixed together with love for the music can bring stunning results. Like here. OBELYSKKH fear no boundaries and no flavour of the heavy: “White Lightning” draws from pure sludge filth through psychedelic soundscapes into postrock and back. Sure, this album is heavy and massive but it also breathes some kinda repetitive mantra-like ambition, which clears the air here and there and thus declines total negativity.

„White Lightning“ was recorded, mixed and mastered in winter 2010/2011 by BILLY ANDERSON (Sleep, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, High On Fire, Melvins – to name a few) providing the record a raw live sound that gives you a hint to what an immense experience it is to witness OBELYSKKH live – clearly something you shouldn’t miss.

Tracklisting
01 The Enochian Keys (CD only)
02 Elegy
03 The White Lightning
04 Mount Nysa
05 Amphetamine Animal
06 Abysmal Desert Cavern (CD only)
07 Invocation To The Old Ones

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream

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