Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Desertfest Berlin 2020: First Lineup Announcement: Masters of Reality, Brant Bjork, C.O.C., Orange Goblin & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

I admit, I’m going to miss seeing the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2019 around thee social medias, but if there’s one thing that eases that loss, it’s the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2020. It’s like something out of a cel-shaded JRPG, but, you know, awesome, and an airship is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Will this be the year I finally get my ass to Berlin? I’d be lying if I said that their having Masters of Reality — who’ll also be in London — on the bill wasn’t a significant draw in my head. I’d wonder if they won’t do New York as well, but they don’t do a lot of shows at all, so I’m not going to bank on that. Of course, having Corrosion of ConformityBrant BjorkOrange GoblinPapirMinami DeutschSÅVER, Earth Tongue and Dhidalah certainly doesn’t hurt the argument either, but it’s just the beginning of Spring fest-announcement season, and so there’s much more to get all giddy-hyperbole about to come in the next few months. Hell, they haven’t even held Desertfest Belgium yet.

Bottom line: expect this airship to circle around many more times before May 1.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2020 first poster

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/

MASTERS OF REALITY | CORROSION OF CONFORMITY | BRANT BJORK | ORANGE GOBLIN | MINAMI DEUTSCH | EARTH TONGUE | PAPIR | DHIDALAH | SÂVER confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2020!!!

Tickets now on sale at: www.desertfest-tickets.de

Finally, we are thrilled to announce the first batch of (outstanding!) acts for our 9th edition, taking place at the ARENA BERLIN May 1st – 3rd 2020. You may not believe your eyes, but it’s a dream come true: Palm Desert scene icons, Masters Of Reality – Official, are finally playing Desertfest! Fronted by Chris Goss, renowned producer of legendary bands such as Kyuss, Queen of the Stone Age and many more, with their Black Sabbath-inspired sound MASTERS OF REALITY will take you on an unforgettable trip through the desert. A true milestone in the eclectic live history of Desertfest Berlin!

It’s been a dozen years since Southern Rock legends, Corrosion Of Conformity, would reunite with Pepper Keenan to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup DOWN, Keenan reconnected with the core C.O.C. trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard. And the long wait is over, we will give them a warm and heavy rocking welcome in 2020!

The Godfather of Desert Rock, Brant Bjork, will return to the Desertfest Berlin stage and revive your spirit! Brant has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity. Expect timeless classics and a new album next Spring, and lay back to get into the groove with the one & only, Mr. BRANT BJORK live at the Arena Berlin!

Widely admired as one of the most ludicrously thunderous and entertaining live bands on the planet, longtime Desertfest comrades Orange Goblin, are on their unstoppable mission to bring us joyous, blood ’n’ thunder metal! With a steady stream of critically acclaimed albums that boldly and gleefully blurred the lines between stoner, doom, black, crust and southern rock, while always fervently saluting the old school heavy metal flag and the sacred Sabbathian code. 2020 will celebrate their 25th anniversary, still ORANGE GOBLIN is an inspiration, full of power and ready to unleash their thunder over Berlin!

Hailing from Japan, kraut rock masters Minami Deutsch have been finally confirmed for the Berlin edition of Desertfest! After their highly acclaimed show at Desertfest Belgium two years ago, desert festers in Berlin will be finally able to witness their unique, mesmerizing live performance. Kraut rock may be alive heavier than ever, but this Tokyo trio proves they are way more than just a revival act. Don’t miss this EXCLUSIVE show of the fantastic MINAMI DEUTSCH!

Sometimes music is supposed to feel weird and indescribable. It’s the moments of clarity within the dense, sonic mess that often feels the most satisfying. That’s the space that New Zealand prog-rockers Earth Tongue occupy. With their 2016- debut EP and a just released full-length album, these guys quickly became one of NZ’s most exciting underground live acts and it wasn’t long until they were playing alongside international touring bands like Red Fang, Beastwars or
Monolord. We are thrilled to welcome EARTH TONGUE live in 2020, taking us all on raw and fuzzy journey into psych-rock with a sound that weaves between melodic and jarring, with unexpected turns leaving us in a disoriented, euphoric haze.

Copenhagen trio, Papir, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize you at the Arena Berlin; PAPIR are the real deal for fans of bands alike Causa Sui, and could easily become the showboats of the scene!

Dhidalah burst into the fuzz rock scene in 2013, and has hailed from the Tokyo underground as a space rock power trio. The band name derives from the Japanese legend of the Giant Gods — known as the creaters of mountains, lakes and islands. DHIDALAH plays improvisational music performances inspired by various genres from stoner and doom to kraut rock. Give these Japanese Giant Gods a very warm welcome next Spring, when the Arena will be turned into a psychedelic wonderland!

Norway’s hottest underground act, SÂVER, is the new project of Ole Christian Helstad, Ole Ulvik Rokseth and Markus Støle of TOMBSTONES and HYMN. The band delivers an astounding sound of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, abrasive vocals and a devastating, gnarly bass. SÂVER’s tunes can be characterized by a strong component of apocalyptic synths and textural electronics hovering above the base of heavy guitars and bass – a mélange that works incredibly well, and has seen SÂVER rising up and being no longer just one of the world’s best kept music secrets!

Friends, we hope you enjoy this first round of bands as much as we do, with many more killer names to come. After last year’s changes of a new sound system, the “Black Box“, that many of you seem to appreciate, we will also again provide a lot more specials, space, and again a chill- and live zone on the ubercool Hoppetosse boat! Don’t miss THE fuzz rock party of the year, at the capitol of the almighty riffs: DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020 is ready to roll!

Tickets & more infos are now available at:
www.desertfest.de

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Masters of Reality, “Dreamtime Stomp”

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Iron & Stone Premiere “Shadow on Your Neck” Video; You Can’t Stop What’s Coming out Sept. 27

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

iron and stone

For the last seven years, German outfit Iron & Stone have plied their trade in straightforward heavy rock vibes, touching on desert-style here and there but keeping a rougher edge to the proceedings generally that’s allowed them to maintain a distinct feel to what they do. Their upcoming four-song EP, You Can’t Stop What’s Coming, is out Sept. 27 through Hand of Doom Records and finds the band working around a conceptual narrative for the first time, taking a theme derived from the Coen Brothers film No Country for Old Men — adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy — to embark on a discussion of character and plot. That’s a fair amount of ground to cover in four tracks, and I think even the band would admit they’re not really delving into the full details of every twist and turn that story takes — if you’ve seen the film or read the book, you know there are a few — but as they follow-up their 2017 debut LP, Petrichor (review here), 2015’s Old Man’s Doom EP (review here) and sundry other offerings put together over the course of their early transition from working just as the duo of vocalist Hennig Lührig and multi-instrumentalist (now just guitar) Stephan Möller, Iron & Stone have arguably never sounded more like a complete band than they do here.

All told, You Can’t Stop What’s Coming — the title a particularly memorable line from the film — is about 18 minutes long, so again, it’s not like Iron & Stone are making major demands on anyone’s time. What they do instead is offer a gruff take on riffy iron and stone you can't stop what's cominggrooves, with Lührig‘s voice adding an Acrimony-style sense of throaty melody amid the riffs from Möller and fellow guitarist Christopher Petersen and the locked-down swing of bassist Matthias Bormann and drummer Torsten Hoffmann. This Mannly rhythm section isn’t to be undervalued, as they show early in driving forward the fuzz of “Hand of Fate,” which either has an organ on it or an effect that sounds like one, or emphasizing the crunch in “Shadow on Your Neck.” And amid the touches of Truckfighters-style fuzzoleads there and in the verses of the slower “Old, Bitter and Out of Touch,” indeed the bass and drums hold the songs together on structural terms, making sure the mission is completed in the fashion it ultimately is: without pretense and with plenty of weight behind its push. As the band digs into its heaviest crunch on closer “1958,” there’s no doubting they’re all on the same page — a bit of cowbell emerges as the icing on a proverbial cake baked in classic European stoner rock.

That foundation, inherently, is familiar enough, but there’s little about You Can’t Stop What’s Coming not to dig provided one enters the fray knowing ‘what’s coming.’ One way or the other, Iron & Stone make a fervent argument for vitality in such a heavy modus, and listening to them ride out the groove of “1958” with the guitars intertwining over flowing undulations of crash, I’m not inclined to fight them on the point. Changing the world? Nope. Kicking ass and having a good time doing it? Clearly. Seems like if it’s one or the other, they’re making the right choice of where to end up in terms of ambition.

Below you’ll find the video premiere for “Shadow on Your Neck,” followed by more about the EP. I hope you enjoy:

Iron & Stone, “Shadow on Your Neck” official video premiere

Hand Of Doom Records is proud to release Iron & Stone’s new EP „You can‘t stop what‘s coming“ on September, 27th, 2019. The successor to Iron & Stone‘s 2017 album „Petrichor“ (released on Hand Of Doom mother-label Backbite Records) features 4 tracks, all of them lyrically inspired by the Coen brothers movie-adaption of Cormac McCarthy‘s novel „No country for old men“. Three of them explore certain characters of the story while „1958“ recounts a key moment of the story.

It is the first time for Iron & Stone to lyrically work with concepts of another artist. Musically the band adds a nuance of blues to the overall sound, while staying firmly rooted in the doom- and stonerrock genres, keeping the guitars fuzzy, the tuning low and the grooves heavy.

In typical Iron & Stone fashion all songs were recorded DIY at their rehearsal space near Hannover, Germany. Tracking took place from May to September 2018. The mix was done by the band as well while the mastering was done by Andreas Brunke, a close friend of the band, who mastered all earlier Iron & Stone releases so far.

The cover was drawn by tattoo-artist Mark Schankath of PMA Tattoo, Hannover.

Pre-order is live now. The orange/black, one-sided 12” vinyl (with a screen-printed b-side) is available in an edition of 300 copies and as digital download.

1. Hand Of Fate
2. Shadow On Your Neck
3. Old, Bitter & Out Of Touch
4. 1958

Iron & Stone are:
Hennig Lührig – vocals
Christopher Petersen – guitar
Stephan Möller – guitar
Matthias Bormann – bass
Torsten Hoffmann – drums

Iron & Stone on Thee Facebooks

Iron & Stone on Bandcamp

Hand of Doom Records on Thee Facebooks

Hand of Doom Records webstore

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Nazca Space Fox Post “Windhund”; Pi out Sept. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

nazca space fox

One can definitely hear shades of Yawning Man in the sun-reflecting guitar tone of Germany’s Nazca Space Fox, whose second album, Pi, will see release on Sept. 27 through Tonzonen, but that’s more of a beginning point than an end point, and fair enough then that it should arrive via a stream of “Windhund.” The opening track of the impending long-player answers back some of the drift from the Frankfurt trio’s 2017 self-titled debut, which took a similarly mellow-heavy tack, and wants nothing for fluidity while adding a further sense of clearheadedness to the production, directing a jam even as it seems to be unfolding. Entirely instrumental, the song runs eight and a half minutes, so should give you plenty of opportunity to dig into its vibe, and I think once you do, you’ll agree it was worth the trip. I’ll admit I hadn’t heard these cats before, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to get on board here.

From the PR wire:

nazca space fox pi

Get Your Psychedelic Rock Groove on with the New Nazca Space Fox Single Windhund!

New Album Pi out late September!

Pi was recorded in several live sessions and now German trio Nazca Space Fox has now reached the place where they feel most comfortable: Between big melodies, loud, groovy riffs and fragile sound parts. The 6 tracks on Pi are more structured and focused than before, yet improvisation was given enough space to unfold. The basic instruments speak for themselves: drums, guitar, bass. Groovy and powerful. Light and fragile. Post-Rock merges with Stoner & Psychedelic.

Pi will be available on limited edition vinyl, CD and digital from Tonzonen Records on September 27, 2019.

The self titled debut album from instrumental rock band Nazca Space Fox was released in 2017, it sold out soon. Now, after numerous live shows (e.g. with ¡Pendejo!, Powder for Pigeons, The Sonic Dawn, Thundermother, Giöbia, Electric Moon) and gigs at major festivals (Burg Herzberg, PsyKa), Nazca Space Fox are back with their second album Pi, which stands for the Indian expression for place or location.

Pi was recorded in several live sessions and now German trio Nazca Space Fox has now reached the place where they feel most comfortable: Between big melodies, loud, groovy riffs and fragile sound parts. The 6 tracks on Pi are more structured and focused than before, yet improvisation was given enough space to unfold. The basic instruments speak for themselves: drums, guitar, bass. Groovy and powerful. Light and fragile. Post-Rock merges with Stoner & Psychedelic.

Tracklist
1. Windhund
2. Space Drift
3. Space Farm Blues
4. Hummingbird
5. Showdown
6. Grinder

Nazca Space Fox is:
Heiko – Drums
Matze – Guitar
Stefan – Bass

http://nazcaspacefox.de
www.facebook.com/nazcaspacefox
https://nazcaspacefox1.bandcamp.com
https://www.tonzonen.de

Nazca Space Fox, “Windhund”

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High Fighter, Champain: Die Strafe Ertönt

Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high fighter champain

Oof that’s brutal. The progression that Hamburg, Germany’s High Fighter have undertaken over the course of their now-two full-lengths and their debut EP has seen them become increasingly dark, increasingly metal, and increasingly scathing. On Champain, their 11-song/43-minute second LP and first for Argonauta Records, vocalist Mona Miluski earns consideration among the Angela Gossows of the world for the ferocity of her delivery, and guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer/backing vocalist Thomas Wildelau likewise push into more intense fare, building on the consuming atmosphere that they unleashed in 2016’s memorable Scars and Crosses (review here), making the sludgecore rock of their 2014 debut EP, The Goat Ritual (review here), seem almost quaint in comparison.

The band, who toured steadily to support the first long-player, seem only to have grown darker as a result, and while Miluski‘s throatripper screams are a big part of that, it’s also there in the tones of the guitars and the severity of the drumming in the chorus of a song like “Another Cure,” and the furious drive of the song’s ending. It is an unmistakably metallic aggression, and even as the vocals in that song and elsewhere veer back and forth between screaming and a cleaner approach — highlighting the latter particularly on the closing duo “A Shrine” and “Champain,” but using it wisely throughout to change things up as Miluski has all along in the band’s five-year tenure — that aggression is maintained. No matter where a given song goes, it is not intended to be friendly, or to hypnotize so much as to punch in the face.

Champain is a title I read both as a signal of the level of class in High Fighter‘s execution, which is true, as well as in a life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemonade kind of way. When life gives you pain, make champagne, and so on. Whether or not either was the intent of the band, I don’t know, but they do show a sense of poise amid all the aural throttling of their songcraft, and not just for those moments of clean vocals.

To be sure, Miluski‘s voice is a defining element in High Fighter‘s approach — they’d be an entirely different band without it — but in the near-melodeath of “Shine Equal Dark” or the pointed turns in “When We Suffer,” which also brings in Anton Lisovoj, founding vocalist/bassist of Downfall of Gaia, with whom High Fighter toured last year, for a guest spot, demonstrate plainly that the entire band is on the same page when it comes to aesthetic, or at very least they’re able to convey that with their sound. Consider that despite touring and the direction their material have taken, all five original members remain in the group. That’s relatively rare as a band moves from one record to another in the gritty fashion High Fighter have. It only makes their dynamic stronger throughout Champain, however, as a song like “Dead Gift” proves with its layered hook, crash and head-down churning riff in the post-chorus.

high fighter (Photo by Basti Grim)

The aforementioned “Another Cure” is a standout for its seven-minute runtime, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call its delivery patient, the sheer fact that it takes a longer form than what surrounds — the next longest is opener “Before I Disappear,” at 5:16, while everything else apart from two interludes is in the 3:30-4:30 range — showcases a willingness to change up their take as called for by the material itself. And of course it’s not just that it takes longer to get where it’s going — I was trying to think of whatever the punishing equivalent of Funkytown would be; Scathesville? Flaysberg? Brutalasfuckton? — but that the songwriting earns the distance it travels from one end to the other that makes the difference.

Those noted interludes, “Interlight” on the first half of the album and the obviously-complementary “Interdark” on the second, play a role in giving the listener a chance to breathe before the next round of assault ensues, but neither is much more than a minute long, and whether it’s the semi-djent “Kozel” or the swinging mosher “I Will Not” that follows, leading directly into “Interdark,” there’s plenty to justify the break. Indeed, the momentum High Fighter amass across Champain‘s span becomes no less crucial to the proceedings than the aggression driving the performances themselves, each track feeding into the overarching impression of striking out against suffering inflicted. There are some triumphs and there are some pitfalls conveyed as a part of that, but these too are brought to bear with intent behind them, and the feeling of purpose overall is richer as a result.

And though in some ways, the progression High Fighter have thus far undertaken is a surprise — one might expect a band over time to grow less aggressive, not more — with the allowance that it’s still only been five years/two albums and their longer-term growth will invariably play out over their next several releases, they’ve found a niche somewhere between heavy and mean that is able to draw from both sides effectively and still seem to put songwriting first. That’s something Scars and Crosses did as well, but that Champain does with even greater efficiency, proffering a statement of intent in “Before I Disappear” and then setting up the rest of what follows to expand the argument.

Their sound won’t be for everybody, but it was never supposed to be. Rather, its foundation in metal rather than rock seems to position High Fighter as an automatic surprise on this or that heavy show, fest, whatever it might be, and one suspects that suits the five-piece just fine as they gleefully harsh mellows across the broader European touring market. I’d love to see the faces of the stoner rock hippies when they break out “Shine Equal Dark,” personally. If this is the road High Fighter are heading down, eventually they’re going to have to expose themselves to a more metal audience, but as it is on their second record, they seem to delight in the high-grade skin peel they provide. That only makes it more fun.

High Fighter, “Before I Disappear”

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Friday Full-Length: My Sleeping Karma, My Sleeping Karma

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

If you asked the band, I bet Germany’s My Sleeping Karma would probably think of their 2006 self-titled debut as primitive in some way, at least compared to what’s come after, the way the arrangements stay relatively straightforward and the spiritual themes that would take hold across subsequent releases only beginning to be explored. Maybe they’d be right in that context, but the six-tracker is also the foundation for all that later growth and exploration. More over, it is an album of detail. Listen to the way the drums complement the emphasis on guitar line in “InTENsion” or the counterpoint to the guitar lines that the bass brings in “Glow 11.” The wisp of effects backing the central guitar line in the quiet stretches of second cut “23 Enigma.” The synth line pushing alongside the space rock drive of “Drannel Xu Ilop” and the way eight-minute closer “Eightfold Path” so gracefully unfolds its rolling progression across its early going. Even just the warmth of its tones. Guitar and bass, granted, but how often do you hear drums that sound warm? Recorded by drummer Steffen Weigand, who shared a prior tenure in underrated rockers The Great Escape with bassist Matte Vandeven — that band’s last album, Nothing Happens Without a Dream, came out on Nasoni in 2005 — My Sleeping Karma‘s My Sleeping Karma arrived through Elektrohasch Schallplatten and delivered an aural smoothness the likes of which heavy rock hadn’t heard before. Sure, Weigand, Vandeven, guitarist Seppi and keyboardist Norman Mehren drew form a well of influences in progressive, heavy and psychedelic rock, but their intent toward individuality, even at this moment of outset, is plain to hear in the tracks of their self-titled. And also in everything that’s come since.

I’d dug The Great Escape, played tracks from 2003’s Escape from Reality on college radio, etc., but the arrival of My Sleeping Karma was something on its own wavelength. At the time, much of my frame for heavy psychedelia was based around the also-Germany-based Colour Haze, and fair enough since they were among the principal European forebears of the style, but My Sleeping Karma‘s My Sleeping Karma emphasized how much more there was to say with heavy psych, how it could go to different places and occupy more than one mindset. There was something spiritual about it from the start. In the crucial unfurling of the 9:21 opener and longest track (immediate points) “InTENsion” (9:21), the four-piece from my sleeping karma self titledAschaffenburg created an immersion of the listener that went beyond “setting the tone” in the spirit of so many opening tracks and moved into a genuine sense of creating a mood, finding a headspace and bringing the listener to it. It was heavy in presence and weighted in tone, but peaceful even in its later, driving reaches, as its intended tension came to a head. And from the resonant keyboard lines of “23 Enigma” to the more active jump and shove of “Hymn 72,” My Sleeping Karma worked its way outward from the start, setting up the deep dive that its final three tracks, “Glow 11,” “Drannel Xu Ilop” and “Eightfold Path,” would represent on a clearly purposeful and clearly hypnotic and clearly switched on side B.

The effect of pairing “Glow 11” and “Drannel Xu Ilop” in particular isn’t to be understated. Like having “23 Enigma” and “Hymn 72” back-to-back just at the end of side A, having “Glow 11” into “Drannel Xu Ilop” lead into side B provides the proverbial “meat” of the album in terms of atmosphere — so yes, the meat you can’t see or touch, but meat nonetheless; don’t you touch that intangible meat! — and drawing the listener deeper into the record’s sphere. It’s not just that the songs are both seven-plus minutes long, or remarkably mellow, or hyper-repetitive. In fact they’re none of those things, but together they make up 15 minutes of a 44-minute LP and go a long way toward creating the saga of My Sleeping Karma‘s creative breadth. Their lushness isn’t overbearing — they’re never a wash of tone or effects or crash — but the movement is so fluid within and between them that one almost can’t help but be caught up in their sweep, and even though the payoff of “Drannel Xu Ilop” hearkens back to an earlier riff to make its impact, that impact is only more engaging for the subconscious familiarity of its figure. And as a bookend with “InTENsion,” “Eightfold Path” finishes with a reinforcement not only of the outward cast of My Sleeping Karma as a whole, but of the progressive future that was at the time ahead of the band. Held together by the bassline, a slower, drifting movement brings the track to its finish, not really soft, but subtle in its groove, with just bursts of intensity in the guitar before the last airy exhale comes forward, closing on a suitably meditative note.

My Sleeping Karma would go on to release two more albums through Elektrohasch in 2008’s Satya (review here; discussed here) and 2010’s Tri (review here) before signing to Napalm Records‘ short-lived heavy rock imprint Spinning Goblin Productions that was soon enough folded into Napalm proper for 2012’s Soma (review here), 2015’s Moksha (review here) and the 2017 live album, Mela Ananda — Live (review here). They put in a fair amount of road time in 2018, playing festivals like Desertfest Belgium and Freak Valley, and just last month they put in an appearance at SonicBlast Moledo ahead of touring in November with Stoned Jesus on an Obelisk-presented run (info here) called ‘Sonic Ride’ that has Somali Yacht Club opening the shows. No way that’s not going to be a good time.

I haven’t heard plans about a new album, but even if something’s in the works, it presumably wouldn’t be out until 2019 at this point, which would  mean a five-year stretch between studio My Sleeping Karma offerings, which is by far the longest they’ve ever had. For all I know they’ve got something mastered and there’s a press release in my email right now about it, though. Hang on, I’ll check… nope. Well, I’ll check again in five minutes and see if there’s anything then. Will keep you posted.

In the meantime, as always, I hope you enjoy the self-titled. It had been a while since I last dug into it, and while their style may have become more complex with the 13 years since, there’s no question that My Sleeping Karma knew they wanted their music to be a soulful, expressive experience right from the start. And so it was.

Thanks for reading.

Got that burnout working pretty hard on me this week. All levels. I’ve been reminding myself it’s the start of The Patient Mrs.’ semester. And she’s starting a new job. And I’m probably still tired from the move. And we have a toddler. And no dishwasher. The list goes on. But I also still have projects like Lowrider PostWax liner notes (this weekend is it; tomorrow they’re getting done), Acrimony liner notes (waiting on interviews back, so there’s still some time there), a piece on the art at Høstsabbat I said I’d put together and a press release for a certain New England band of marked impact hanging over my head, and all that stuff is feeling pretty overwhelming, and not in that good Quarterly Review kind of way. Like in the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-this-for kind of way.

Example: it’s just about 6AM. I’ve been writing for the last hour and a half and I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. The Pecan will be up any minute now. What the hell am I doing this for?

Whatever.

Next week? Fucking packed. Stream of the interview with Lori from Acid King goes up I think on Friday?, but don’t quote me on that. Premieres slated for Cavern, and Iron & Stone, and reviews of Ecstatic Vision, High Fighter, Mars Red Sky and the Ode to Doom show that’s happening next Wednesday in Manhattan. It’ll be my first Ode after co-presenting the series for three years. I’m already a little nervous to go.

I also this week had to take my new lens in for repair and that became a whole thing with Canon. Apparently they sent my warranty to an old email that doesn’t exist anymore, so I never activated it — which means nothing, by the way; the idea of “activating” a warranty by signing up for their system and giving them all the information about what you have and what you do with it? yeah, it’s a data mine and nothing more — and the first time I went to the office it was like I was coming from another planet. Took me all of Tuesday to sort out what had happened to that email, then I got it and had to wait for the warranty confirmation for a day and blah blah blah but I took the lens back in yesterday to the place and it was fine. Hopefully I’ll have it in time for the show next Wednesday, but if not, I’ll slum it with the just-one lens I always used until a couple weeks ago when I bought the new one. Could be worse.

Today is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. You saw the playlist. It’s a good ‘un, and I kind of get sentimental in the last voice-break, so that’s fun too. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

Alright. The baby-monitor shows the boy is still down, so I’m going to take a couple minutes, finish the rest of this coffee and read and probably fall asleep on the couch.

I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun doing what you do.

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Colour Haze Announce New Album Life out This Fall; Update on Live Vol. 2 & Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was just yesterday day I was sitting around talking about Colour Haze being added to Up in Smoke saying I hoped they had a follow-up to 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) out soon, and here we are. The record that they began putting to tape in April is called Life and will be out this Fall, of course through guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint. It’s due out this Fall, which I’ll assume means either October or November sometime, and that’s fine by me. I especially like the part in the update below where Koglek refers to the process as being “especially delightful.” I want to hear what that sounds like.

They’ve also given some more details on the Live Vol. 2 release they announced this Spring and that will capture their performance from Duna Jam in 2007. That seems like it’ll be especially delightful as well.

Can’t wait to see them again in Norway. Their other confirmed dates are below, along with the promise of more to come and some of their set from Duna Jam this year. Dig it:

Colour-Haze-Duna-Live-2007

Elektrohasch 012 – Colour Haze – Life

The work on our new album is going ahead well and is especially delightful for us this time. We think this will become an exceptional record. More about that later. CD and download will be released in autumn. I can‘t say yet if vinyl can be pressed fast enough to be released until the end of the year. In march we will be on tour with the new album… and until then we play live:

28.09. Villingen-Schwenningen, Kulturzentrum Klosterhof
03.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke
05.10. NO – Oslo, Hostsabbat
09.10. Bonn, Harmonie, WDR Rockpalast
12.10. München, Feierwerk, Keep It Low
26.10. Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg, Rotor XXI

Elektrohasch 061 – Colour Haze -Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007

Recordings from our first Duna Jam in 2007 – parts of the legendary Tempel-concert and a wonderful session on the beach….

Now ready for preorder, will be delivered by mid of September. DLP in black 180gr. vinyl or handnumbered limited on 500 copies on yellow (beach-side) and blue (tempel-side) vinyl.

Double-CD and downloads coming soon….

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, Live at Duna Jam 2019

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Kadavar Post “Children of the Night” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kadavar children of the night

Kadavar played at Psycho Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, and in a couple more weeks, they’ll release their new album, For the Dead Travel Fast, which they’ll support beginning in November with a pretty substantial European tour. That’s how it goes. Put out a record and tour. Kadavar, certainly, have done it before.

The difference this time, I guess, is the album itself. I’ll get a review up at some point — mostly because I like writing about Kadavar, rather than the expectation that anyone gives a crap what I have to say about them or that Nuclear Blast is eagerly awaiting my opinion on the record — but it’s a different vibe as Kadavar embark on their fifth album, and the slick modernity that showed itself through 2017’s Rough Times (review here) and 2015’s Berlin (review here) seems to be at least meeting halfway with their more vintage-minded early work, 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) and 2012’s self-titled debut (discussed here). The track for which they’re sharing a new video now, “Children of the Night,” brings that pretty clearly to the forefront.

It’s a proto-metallic fuzz crunch in the guitar and an organic sounding bassline that wouldn’t be out of place on an Uncle Acid record were they perhaps dirtied up a bit, but of course guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann puts his own vocal stamp on it and for my money there aren’t a lot of heavy rock drummers in Europe’s well-populated underground who play with the vitality of Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt, his roll in the ending section of the track matched fluidly by the low-end air-push of  Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup. Less immediately hooky and more dug-in feeling, “Children of the Night” has the mood of For the Dead Travel Fast well summarized, and it’ll be interested to see how the LP is received especially by those fans of their first two records.

But it’s the internet, so people will probably bitch either way. Whatever. I dig it.

They spliced old movie clips together for the video, obviously going for something simpler than the last one. A respite well earned.

Enjoy:

Kadavar, “Children of the Night” official video

After their insanely ambitious spaghetti western video for the “The Devil’s Master”, Berlin, Germany-based rock overlords KADAVAR have released the official music video for the brand new single, “Children Of The Night”. The song comes off the band’s highly anticipated new album, For The Dead Travel Fast.

Get/stream the song here: https://nblast.de/KadavarChildrenOfNight

Pre-order For The Dead Travel Fast and/or accompanying merchandise here!

Recently the band had announced their European headlining tour in support of the album.

KADAVAR – FOR THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
Special Guests: HÄLLAS & PABST
06.11. SE Copenhagen Pumpehuset
07.11. NO Oslo Bla
08.11. SE Göteborg Brewhouse
09.11. SE Stockholm Debaser
10.11. DE Hannover Capitol
12.11. FR Lyon Le CCO
13.11. FR Nantes Le Stéréolux
14.11. FR Paris L’Alhambra
15.11. FR Bordeaux BT 59
16.11. ES Madrid Mon
17.11. ES Barcelona Razzmatazz 2
19.11. FR Strasbourg La Laiterie
20.11. DE Wiesbaden Schlachthof
21.11. DE Nu?rnberg Hirsch
22.11. DE Mu?nchen Backstage Werk
23.11. AT Wien Arena
24.11. DE Dresden Beatpol
25.11. BE Brussels Orangiere at Botanique
27.11. DE Stuttgart LKA Longhorn
28.11. DE Köln Essigfabrik
29.11. DE Hamburg Große Freiheit
30.11. DE Berlin Columbiahalle

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