Freak Valley 2019 Adds Valley of the Sun, A Place to Bury Strangers, High Fighter and More; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2019 final banner

I’ll just go ahead and answer a question no one asked by saying that, yes, I was thinking of Arrested Development when I wrote the opening line of the announcement below with “MONSTER” in all-caps. Like Buster Bluth with his hook raised. But I mean, who could argue, anyway. Looking at the final lineup for Freak Valley 2019, long since sold out, it is indeed beastly. Even the final splurge of additions below, with Valley of the SunTuberOutsideinsideGreat Electric QuestA Place to Bury StrangersLacertilia, High Fighter and John Fairhurst Band shows the festival branching out in terms of style and geography, and there’s really no stopping it. Biggest Freak Valley yet? Yeah, I think maybe it is. They’ve had some righteous lineups in the past, but it’s hard to mess with Corrosion of Conformity playing Deliverance or the kind of reach that pulls in Arc of Ascent from New Zealand. For them and Spaceslug alone, this thing is masterful. If you go, well, good call.

It’s been a pleasure to help the fest in the small way I have by writing these lineup announcements over the last however long. Here’s the final one:

freak valley 2019 final poster

+++ A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS | TUBER | VALLEY OF THE SUN | JOHN FAIRHURST BAND | OUTSIDEINSIDE | GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST | LACERTILIA | HIGH FIGHTER +++

Freaks!

This is it — the last lineup announcement for FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2019, and it’s a MONSTER.

In grand finale fashion, we’re doing an absolute blowout to finish out the three-day lineup for this year’s fest, and we’re continuing to add more and diverse acts from across a broad spectrum of heavy so you can, you know, broaden your horizons while you expand your consciousness.

So keep eyes, ears and mind open as we welcome A Place To Bury Strangers, Tuber, Valley of the Sun, John Fairhurst Band, Outsideinside, Great Electric Quest, Lacertilia and High Fighter to Freak Valley 2019!

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
Chaos holds a strong sway in the aesthetic of Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers, but out of that chaos has derived some of today’s most essential post-space experimentalism. With over 15 years of tenure under their belt in one form or another, they’ve remained relentlessly committed to a forward-thinking, deeply affecting approach, and they’ll come to FREAK VALLEY with an intent to own the stage as only they can. We’ll just say it in advance: You’re welcome.

TUBER
The Greek four-piece Tuber made a definitive statement in 2017 with their second album, ‘Out of the Blue.’ It was a record that took Krautrock and heavy vibes and keyboard-based nuance to a new level for the band and the ultra-populated, much-loved Greek scene from which they’ve emerged. Since their 2012 self-titled EP and the follow-up 2013 long-player, ‘Desert Overcrowded,’ they’ve been geared toward doing their own thing, and we can’t wait to bear witness to their doing exactly that.

VALLEY OF THE SUN
Yes! You may or may not know it yet, but Valley of the Sun are about to release one of the best albums of 2019. It’s called ‘Old Gods’ and it’s the perfect occasion to have the Ohio band over to play. As they approach a decade since their first release, they take their melodic, catchy, and heavy desert-style rock to a new level entirely and stand tall like the statesmen they’ve always been ready to be. If you thought you knew them, prepare to be surprised.

JOHN FAIRHURST BAND
Got the blues? Want some? John Fairhurst is nothing short of an electric blues master and a troubadour for our tumultuous times. His latest work — released April 12 — is ‘The Divided Kingdom,’ and for the UK-based guitarist probably not much more needs to be said about the meaning behind the title. His modern perspective brings a much-needed edge to a classic blues style, and no doubt we’ll all be dancing the merry dance when he comes to FREAK VALLEY.

OUTSIDEINSIDE
Born out of the ashes of Carousel, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based rockers Outsideinside — who are named for THE BEST Blue Cheer record; that’s right, we said it — made their debut with 2017’s ‘Sniff a Hot Rock,’ a shred-laced paradise of ‘70s-style soul boogie. They’ve been quiet since last Fall, but they’ll come roaring back to Europe to join our festivities and we know their warm vibes will turn heads when they hit the stage.

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST
The seekers of the flame themselves are coming to FREAK VALLEY! The legend of Great Electric Quest has spread far and wide and now we’ll get the real deal right in our faces. The San Diego heavy rockers aren’t shy about their classic metal leanings or anything else, and whether they’re climbing on the amps or waving their banner, literally, their brash, all-out performance will be one you’ll be talking about when the weekend is done. Get ready for true madness.

LACERTILIA
Genre-spanning UK progressive, heavy, psychedelic, space, whatever-you-got rockers Lacertilia have a new album in progress right now. They’re done recording and were mixing last time we checked, so let’s say FREAK VALLEY’s their deadline. Get it done, gentlemen! Whether it’s on-hand or not for the fest, we’ll be glad to see them doing new material after their debut album, ‘We’re Already Inside Your Mind,’ so thoroughly kicked our asses in 2016.

HIGH FIGHTER
Speaking of new albums, High Fighter are in the midst of making their second full-length, taking their metallic sludgecore to new places with a fresh batch of songs to answer the accomplishments of 2016’s ‘Scars and Crosses.’ They’ve been pretty secretive on what the new record sounds like, but we know already they’ll deliver something special, so while we all wait for the release date to be announced, get ready for one of the most aggressive sets you’ll see all year.

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/299339670806919/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Great Electric Quest, Chapter II (2018)

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Mouth to Release Past Present Future in August; Playing Krach am Bach

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

German semi-retro progressive rockers Mouth will in August release a new collection titled Past Present Future that, indeed, collects material new and old spanning an 18-year history of the band. Issuing through Tonzonen, the arrival of Past Present Future coincides with the band making their return to the stage at this year’s Krach am Bach festival — playing alongside Kadavar, Spidergawd, Naxatras, Atavismo and others — that will be their first live show since the passing of their bassist Gerald Kirsch and recently-announced regrouping with Thomas Johnen handling low end. Mouth‘s last release was a limited Alterna Sounds Festival live record (discussed here) that captured their final show with Kirsch in the band.

The new vinyl with digital bonus tracks would seem to be a way to reckon with what the band’s been through in terms of personal trauma while express their continued desire to move forward creatively. In addition to the basic release info, Mouth also sent the liner notes for Past Present Future that you can see below.

Enjoy:

mouth past present future

MOUTH – PAST PRESENT FUTURE 10″

The Tonzonen EP version is going to be a vinyl only release but we will also purchase a digital version via Bandcamp.

The vinyl version consists of tracks 1-4. Furthermore the vinyl version of “Steamship Shambles” is edited to 6:11 minutes. [The digital version] is the super extended version.

Tracks 5-7 are only digital bonus tracks.

MOUTH – Past-Present-Future
(Tonzonen 2019)
1. Coffee (2002/2018)
2. Chase‘72 (2017)
3. Into the Light (alternate mix)
4. Steamship Shambles (2018)
5. March of the Cyclopes (a cappella mix)
6. Stillsad (2002)
7. Youth (2001)

Liner notes:

Side A
Coffee* 3:56
As if Led Zeppelin recorded a jingle together with The Move and John Barry for a Starbucks advertisement in 1972.

The Song was originally recorded in spring 2002. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek thing. I used drink a lot of coffee in those while I was learning for my university exams. In a way its my personal drug song. Last year after Gerald’s death I was browsing some of our very old recordings and I found this lovely peace of rock. Anyway, I played around the recording and added some classical MOUTH keys to it. Finally it sounded like a typical 2018 MOUTH song.

Chase’72** 8:58
This is an impromptu live studio jam from 2017 which sounds a bit like movie score from the early seventies, maybe Dirty Harry.

Side B
Into The Light*** 7:05
This is my original mix which was finally dropped by our late producer and label boss Guido Lucas. For me this is the real version. I’m not a big fan of the album version because the song doesn’t really kick the way it was supposed to be but I think that this version is close to perfection.

Steamship Shambles**** 6:11
This almost experimental peace is based on a basic studio recording from January 2018 and a homerecording demo from 2011. Nick is responsible for all the instruments, (kitchen-) sounds, mixing and editing, except hammond, lead guitar & mellotron. It’s a bit like a Ummagamma studio experiment.

Bonus tracks:
March of the Cyclopes
It’s an a cappella mix minus the basic tracks. I like it because you can actually hear what the choir is singing. Haha.

Stillsad
This is a very early example of a typical MOUTH song in those days. It could have been the B-Side to „Coffee“. This is a studio recording from early 2002. We were able to use a very nice studio for free between 23:00-6:00. I think we nailed it in one night session.

Youth
This song was one of our early anthems (together with „coffee“) and our show closer. It was one of our first songs and a very good example of our „boogie van hippie music“. We recorded this one together with another song at the Blubox in autumn 2001. It was also originally produced by the late Guido Lucas.

*2002/2018 (koller)
revised version
bass: jan wendler
**2017 (kirch/koller/mavridis)
studio jam
***2012 (koller)
alternative mix
****2018 (mavridis)

Mouth is:
Nick Mavridis: Drums
Thomas Johnen: Bass
Christian Koller: Guitar / Keyboards / Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/mouthsound/
https://mouthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/mouthprog
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

Mouth, Floating (2018)

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Keep it Low 2019: Truckfighters, Ecstatic Vision, Ruff Majik and Instrument Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2019 banner

One of the hazards in being so behind on shit all the time — all. the. time. — is temporal displacement. Thus, yesterday when I posted about Truckfighters making their reunion official and playing Keep it Low 2019 this Fall as a part of that process, that went up first, but actually came after the announcement that the Munich-based festival would host them this October. Does it matter? No. Is anyone other than me paying the slightest bit of attention? I can’t imagine they are. But, you know, temporal displacement. Someone call the DTI.

Good luck with that reference.

While I’m talking to myself, let me encourage you (me) wholeheartedly to dig into the new Ruff Majik single beneath the announcement from Keep it Low that follows. They have a new album coming that I’m hoping to premiere a song from when the time comes, and I think “Schizophrenic” is a pretty good indicator of why I’d want to do such a thing. They of course will also play Keep it Low, along with Philly’s Ecstatic Vision (new album? they’re due) and Munich’s own Instrument. It’s a solid bill, and no doubt there are even more announcements to follow. I’ll do my best to keep up, if only for my own edification.

Kaboom:

keep it low 2019 poster

Truckfighters confirmed for Keep It Low Festival 2019!

Yes Keepers, you read it right!

Truckfighters’ hiatus is over and they will soon hit the stage again!! They played our very first edition of Keep It Low Festival in 2013, and we are thrilled to have them back in Munich this year to play their album “Gravity X” from finish to start!

Along with them, we are proud to announce today that Pennsylvania Heavy Psych quartet Ecstatic Vision, South African Garage trio Ruff Majik & Munich-based Postrock outfit Instrument are added to our 2019 line-up as well!

There aren’t many 2-day tickets left so better be fast and get them here: www.keepitlow.de/tickets-keep-it-low

https://www.facebook.com/events/250328939168797/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Ruff Majik, “Schizophrenic”

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Quarterly Review: Bellrope, Cracked Machine, The Sky Giants, Sacred Monster, High ‘n’ Heavy, Warlung, Rogue Conjurer, Monovine, Un & Coltsblood, La Grande Armée

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Six. Not that there wasn’t a bit of a crunch along the way, but I definitely think this Quarterly Review was aided by the fact that I dug so much of what I was writing about on a personal-taste level. You get through it one way or the other, but it just makes it more fun. Today is the last day and then it’s back to something approaching normal tomorrow, but of course before this thing is rounded out I want to thank you as always for taking the time and for reading if you did. It means a tremendous amount to me to put words out and have people see them, so thank you for your part in that.

This could’ve easily gone seven or eight or 10 days if scheduling had permitted, but here’s as good a place to leave it. The next one will probably be the first week of July or thereabouts, so keep an eye out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Bellrope, You Must Relax

bellrope you must relax

How much noise can your brain take? I don’t mean noise like start-stop riffs and dudes shouting. I mean actual, abrasive, amelodic noise. Bellrope, with ex-members of the underrated Black Shape of Nexus start their Exile on Mainstream-delivered debut album, You Must Relax, with three minutes of chaff-separation they’re calling “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost.” It’s downright caustic. Fortunately, what follows on the four subsequent extended tracks devotes itself to lumbering post-sludge that’s at least accessible by comparison. “Old Overholt” is the only other inclusion under 10 minutes as the tracks are arranged shortest to longest with the 17:57 “CBD/Hereinunder” concluding. The thickened tones brought to bear throughout “Old Overholt” and the blend of screams and growls that accompany are more indicative of what follows on the centerpiece title-track and the penultimate “TD2000,” but the German four-piece still manage to sound plenty fucked throughout. Just not painfully so. There’s something threatening about the use of the word “must” in the album’s title. The songs realize that threat.

Bellrope on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cracked Machine, The Call of the Void

Cracked Machine The Call of the Void

Here be dragons. Though its core tonality is still within the bounds of heavy rock, Wiltshire, UK, four-piece bring a far more atmospheric and progressive style to fruition on their second album, The Call of the Void, than it might at first appear. With post-rock float to the guitar of Bill Denton, keyboard textures from Clive Noyes, and fluid rhythms carried through changes in volume and ambience from bassist Christ Sutton and drummer Blazej Gradziel, the PsyKA Records outfit present a cerebral seven tracks/47 minutes of immersive and seemingly conceptual work, with opener “Jormungandr” establishing the context in which each song that follows is named for a different culture’s dragon, whether it’s the Hittite “Illuyanka,” Japan’s “Yamata No Orochi” or the Persian “Azi Dahakar.” Cracked Machine use this theme to tie pieces together, and they push farther out as the record unfolds late with “Typhon” and “Vritra” a closing pair of marked scope. The shortest cut, the earlier 5:14 “Kirimu,” has probably the most straightforward push, but Cracked Machine demonstrate an ability to adapt to the needs of whatever idea they’re working to convey.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records webstore

 

The Sky Giants, The Shifting of Phaseworld

the sky giants the shifting of phaseworld

Taking cues from psychedelia almost as much as jangly West Coast noise and punk, Tacoma, Washington’s The Sky Giants offer the 10-track sophomore outing The Shifting of Phaseworld, which finds a balance in songs like “Dream Receiver” between progressive heavy rock and its rawer foundations. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Jake Frye, bassist Jessie Avery and drummer/vocalist/engineer/graphic artist Peter Tietjen are comfortable tipping from one side to the other between and within songs, starting off with the shove of “Technicolor Kaleidoscope” and getting mathy on the later “Half Machine” ahead of the chunkier-riffed “Rhyme and the Flame,” which somehow touches on classic punk even as it hones a wash of distortion that that has to cut through. Closing each side with a longer track in the rolling, airy “Solid State” (6:53) and the frenetic ending of “Simian” (7:38), The Sky Giants stake out a sonic terrain very much their own throughout The Shifting of Phaseworld and only seem to expand their territory as they go.

The Sky Giants on Thee Facebooks

The Sky Giants on Bandcamp

 

Sacred Monster, Worship the Weird

sacred monster worship the weird

Topped off by the ace screams of vocalist Adam Szczygiel, who taps his inner Devin Townsend circa Strapping Young Lad on “High Confessor” and “Re-Animator,” Sacred Monster‘s debut album, Worship the Weird would seem to cull together elements of Orange Goblin and Bongzilla for a kind of classic-metal-aware sludge rock, the riffs of Robert Nubel not at all shy about digging into aggressive vibes to go with the layers of growls and throatrippers and the occasional King Diamond-esque falsetto, as on “Waverly Hills,” as bassist Guillermo Moreno and drummer Ted Nubel bolster that feel with tight turns and duly driven bottom end. I’ll take “Face of My Father” as a highlight, if only for the excruciating sound of Szczygiel‘s screech, but the swing in closer “Maze of Dreams” has an appeal of its own, and as a Twilight Zone and a Shatner fan, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” offers its own charm.

Sacred Monster on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Monster on Bandcamp

 

High n’ Heavy, Warrior Queen

high n heavy warrior queen

Shades of grunge and skate-fuzz fuckall pervade the Sabbathian grooves of High n’ Heavy‘s second album, Warrior Queen, as guitarist John Steele works some doomly keys into second cut “Shield Maiden” and vocalist Kris Fortin moves in and out of throaty shouts on side B’s “Lydia.” They thrash out in the noisy “Catapult” and Nick Perrone‘s drums seem to bounce even in the longer-winded “Lands Afar” and closer “Smell of Decay / Wings and Claw,” on which Mike Dudley‘s rumble backs classically metallic shred in the lead guitar after offering likewise support to the piano in the early going of “Join the Day.” Released through Electric Valley Records, the eight-song/36-minute LP comes across as raw but not without purpose in that, and its blend of tonal thickness and the blend of thrust and nod does well to ensure High n’ Heavy remain unpredictable while also living up to the standard of their moniker. There’s potential here that’s worth further exploration on the part of the band.

High n’ Heavy on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Warlung, Immortal Portal

Warlung Immortal Portal

Houston, Texas, four-piece make a quick case for the attention of Ripple Music on their sophomore outing, Immortal Portal, which is slickly-but-not-too-slickly produced and sharply-but-not-too-sharply executed, a professional sensibility in “Black Horse Pike” and the subsequent “The Palm Reader” — which manages to be influenced melodically by Uncle Acid without sounding just like them — ahead of the ’80s metallurgy of “Heart of a Sinner” and the reference-packed “1970.” “We All Die in the End” gives an uptempo swing to the opening salvo ahead of the more brooding “Between the Dark and the Light,” but Warlung hold firm to clearly-presented melodies and riff-led rhythms no matter where they seem to go in mood or otherwise. That ties the drift of the later “Heavy Echoes” to the earlier material and makes the harmony-laced “No Son of Mine” and the organ-ic proggy sprawling finale “Coal Minors” all the more effective in reaching beyond where the album started, so that the listener winds up in a different landscape than they started, still grounded, but changed nonetheless.

Warlung on Thee Facebooks

Warlung on Bandcamp

 

Rogue Conjurer, Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives

rogue conjurer of the goddess

Originally released digitally by the Baltimore-based unit in 2017, the two-songer Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives sees pressing as an ultra-limited tape via Damien Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Tonie Joy, drummer Colin Seven and organist Donny Van Zandt — since replaced by Trevor Shipley — honing a psychedelic take on doomly riffs and groove. “Crystal Mountain Lives” has a more distinct nod to its central progression, with a wah-drenched break and greater overall largesse of fuzz, but “Of the Goddess” brings an effective almost shoegazing sense to its downer spirit. The first track is also longer, so it has more time to move from that initial impression to its own payoff, but either way you go, Rogue Conjurer bring out their dead ably on the tape, showing influences from heavy psych and beyond as “Of the Goddess” winds its way to its close and “Crystal Mountain Lives” begins its fade-in all over again. No pretense, but a broad range that would allow for some if they wanted.

Rogue Conjurer on Instagram

Damien Records on Bandcamp

 

Monovine, D.Y.E

monovine dye

Athens heavy rockers Monovine wear their grunge influence proudly on their third full-length, D.Y.E, issued late in 2018 digitally with an early 2019 vinyl release. It’s writ large in the Nirvana-ism of the slurring “Mellow” at the outset and remains a factor through the melodies of “Void” and the later punkery of “Messed Up” or “Ring a Bell,” as well as the toying-with-pop “Me (Raphe Nuclei)” and “Your Figure Smells,” but where Monovine succeed in making that influence their own is by filtering it through a fuzzier presentation. The guitar and bass tones keep a modern heavy feel, and as the drums roll and crash through songs like “For a Sun” and “Why Don’t You Shoot Me in the Head,” that makes a difference in the overall impression the album leaves. Still, there’s little question as to their central point of inspiration, and they bring it out in homage and as a fairly honed mode of expression on closer “Haunt,” which teases an explosion in its melancholy strum and then… well, don’t let me spoil it.

Monovine on Thee Facebooks

Monovine on Bandcamp

 

Un & Coltsblood, Split

un coltsblood split

A festering 42 minutes of lurching agonies, Un and Coltsblood‘s split taps the best of modern death-doom’s emotionalism and bent toward extremity. Billed as a “tribute to grief: the final act of love,” it brings just two tracks, one per band, as Coltsblood open with “Snows of the Winter Realm” and Un follow with “Every Fear Illuminated.” Both bands proffer a terrifyingly weighted plod and offset it with a spacious ambience, whether it’s Un departing their grueling nod after about six and a half minutes only to build back up over the next six and grow more ferocious until devolving into noise and slamming crashes ahead of an outro of echoing, needs-a-tune-sounding piano, or Coltsblood fostering their own tonal brutalism and casting their lot with death and black metal while a current of airy guitar seems to mourn the song even as it plays out. Each cut is a monument built to loss, and their purpose in conveying that theme is both what unites them and what makes their work so ultimately consuming, as grief is.

Un on Thee Facebooks

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

 

La Grande Armée, La Grande Armée

La Grande Armée La Grande Armée

The blend of drifting guitar and psychedelic wash on opener “El Canto de las Ballenas” earns La Grande Armée‘s self-titled debut three-song EP immediate favor, and the patient execution they bring to the subsequent “Tripa Intergaláctica” and “Normandía,” particularly the latter, only furthers that appeal. The Chilean trio keep a decidedly natural feel to the exploratory-seeming work, and if this is them finding their sound, they seem happy to do it by losing themselves in their jams. All the better someone thought to press record, since although there’s clearly some trajectory behind the progression of songs — i.e., they know at least to a degree where they want to end up — the process of getting there comes across as spontaneous. Guitar pans channels as bass and drums hold down languid flow, and even in the more active midsection of “Tripa Intergaláctica,” La Grande Armée there’s a sense that it’s more about the space being created than the construction under way. In any case, wherever they want to head next, they would seem to have the means of travel at their disposal.

La Grande Armée on Thee Facebooks

La Grande Armée on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Kungens Män, PFUND, Crystal Spiders, The Misery Men, Hubris, Woorms, Melody Fields, Oreyeon, Mammoth Grove, Crimson Devils

Posted in Reviews on March 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

I used to be pretty artsy and write poetry. Let’s give it a shot:

There was an old man who wore no-toe shoes.
He said, I’mma go do 60 reviews.
He was out of his head,
Should’ve gone back to bed,
But he loves him some dirty psych blues.

Years from now, when I link back to this post for a “(review here)”-type scenario, I’m going to see that and I’ll still think it’s funny. The planet’s dying. I’d say a bit of silly is more than called for.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Kungens Män, Chef

kungens man chef

Krautrockers, assemble! Or, you know, whatever krautrockers do — I assume it involves homemade spacecraft that, yes, absolutely fly. Perhaps one of these days I’ll ask Stockholm’s Kungens Män, whose latest outing for Riot Season, simply titled Chef, is an outbound delight of psych-infused progressivism. Beginning with the opening throb of “Fyrkantig Böjelse” and moving into the volume swells, steady drum line and wandering guitar that starts “Öppen För Stängda Dörrar” on side A, its four extended tracks craft otherworldly textures through a meld of organic instrumental flow and waves of synth, the second cut building to a tense wash of distortion all the while keeping that hypnotic march. The two corresponding 10-minute-plus cuts on side B waste no time in offering cosmic boogie in “Män Med Medel” with a more active rhythmic flow, and closer “Eftertankens Blanka Krankhet” — longer than the opener by one second at 11:24 — fades in on meditative guitar and explores a serene minimalism that only underscores the all around joy of the album.

Kungens Man on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records webstore

 

PFUND, PFUND

pfund pfund

The self-titled, self-released debut full-length from Kiel, Germany’s PFUND arrives and departs with a guesting horn section, and while that inevitably adds a bit of grandeur to the proceedings, the bulk of the outing is dedicated to straightforward, semi-metallic heavy rock, held to ground even in the seven-minute “Spaceman” by a considered sense of structure and an earthy drum sound that draws the songs together, whether it’s the classic riff rock in “Sea of Life” or the moodier sway in the earlier “Lost in Rome.” Dual guitars effectively multiply the impact, and the vocals showcase a nascent sense of melody that one imagines will only continue to grow as the band moves forward. At nine songs and 44 minutes, it shows some breadth and nuance in “Exhaustion” and “Paranoia,” the former tapping into an edge of progressive metal, but the primary impact comes from PFUND‘s heft of groove and how it blends with a rawer edge to their production. The Kyuss-referencing centerpiece here might be called “Imbalance,” but that’s hardly representative of what surrounds, horns and all.

PFUND on Thee Facebooks

PFUND on Bandcamp

 

Crystal Spiders, Demo

crystal spiders demo

Three songs, 11 minutes and three distinct vibes from the aptly-titled Demo demo of North Carolinian three-piece Crystal Spiders. On “Tigerlily,” “Flamethrower” and “Devil’s Resolve,” the trio of bassist/vocalist Brenna Leath (also Lightning Born), guitarist/vocalist Mike Deloatch and drummer/backing vocalist Tradd Yancey careen from bluesy spaciousness to hard-driving catchiness and end up — because why not? — in repeating cult-sludge chants, “Come to the devil’s resolve!” like Black Widow trying to lure people to the sabbat, except shouting. If the purpose of a demo is for a new band to try different methods of working and thereby take a first step in discovering their sound, Crystal Spiders are well on their way, and for what it’s worth, there isn’t anything within their scope as they present it that doesn’t work for them. There are edges to smooth out, of course, but that too is a part of the process starting here.

Crystal Spiders on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Spiders on Bandcamp

 

The Misery Men, Deathspiration

The Misery Men Deathspiration

If you’d asked, depending on which part of Deathspiration was on, I’d probably have called The Misery Men a bass/drum duo, but nope, that’s guitar. Tonally one is reminded of At Devil Dirt from Chile, but the Portland, Oregon, two-piece of vocalist/guitarist Corey G. Lewis and drummer Steve Jones are entirely more barebones in their craft, eschewing digital involvement of any sort in the recording or mixing process and sounding duly raw as a result throughout the subtle earworm of “C.W. Sughrue” and the lumbering “Harness the Darkness.” The subsequent “Night Creeps In” brings a Northwestern noise payoff to quiet/loud trades and the near-10-minute closer “Stoned to Death,” well, it seems to meet an end befitting its title, to say the least. As their stated intent was to capture the most organic version of their sound possible, and made a point of working toward that ideal in their recording, one could hardly fault them for the results of that process. They wanted something human-sounding. They got it.

The Misery Men on Thee Facebooks

The Misery Men on Bandcamp

 

Hubris, EP #II Live

hubris ep ii live

Some — not all — of what one needs to know about HubrisEP #II Live is right there in the title. Indeed, it’s their second EP. Indeed, it was recorded live. And indeed, like using a ‘#’ sign with a Roman numeral, there’s something about the way the three included songs from the Toulouse, France-based outfit sound that’s just a little bit off-kilter from what you might expect. “Zugzwang” (7:19), “Tergo” (19:58) and “Biotilus” (27:04) are arranged shortest to longest, and while the opener starts off like Queens of the Stone Age on an Eastern-tinged psychedelic bender, the lengthy jams that follow — the first of them with a fervent drum punctuation, the second a gradual intertwining of synth and guitar with hardly any percussion at all until after its 22nd minute. The instrumental flow that ensues from there is almost like a hidden bonus track, at least until they Hubris get to minute 26 and the whole thing explodes in crash and plod. The underlying message, of course, is that if you think you’re safe at any point, you’re not.

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Hubris on Bandcamp

 

Woorms, Slake

woorms slake

Lumbering fuckall pervades the debut full-length, Slake, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sludgers Woorms — also stylized all-caps — which incorporates past singles “Find a Meal Find a Bed Find a God” and “Mouth is a Wound” amid the sample/noise barrage of “Our Lady of Perpetually Shitfaced” and the willfully brash “Racist Kevin” that follows. There’s an edge of Melvinsian chug to the proceedings, but Woorms‘ take, though presented in finished compositions, comes across as almost nihilistic rather than making a show of its experimentalism. That is, they’re trying to say they don’t give a fuck, and in listening, they make it kind of easy to believe, but there’s still something about the cohesiveness of “Veni Vidi Fucki” and “Rice Crispy” and the saved-the-best-nod-for-last finale “Sore Afraid” that undercuts the notion even while making the listening experience all the more pummeling, and from the intro “Corpse Corps” through “Urine Trouble Now”‘s echoing shouts and the closer’s unmitigated stomp, there’s still plenty of exploration being done.

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WOORMS on Bandcamp

 

Oreyeon, Ode to Oblivion

Oreyeon Ode to Oblivion

Rebranded since their 2016 debut, Builders of Cosmos (discussed here), from their more phonetically intuitive original moniker, Orion, Italy’s Oreyeon issue a cosmically expansive spacescape follow-up in their six-song/40-minute sophomore outing, Ode to Oblivion, also their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds. Echoing vocals pervade “Big Surprise” after the introductory “T.I.O.” and “Trudging to Vacuity” establish the wide-cast mix and anti-grav rhythmic density, and the nine-minute side A finale title-track runs mostly-instrumental circles around most of what I’d usually call “prog” only after it lays down a sleek hook in the first couple minutes. After “Big Surprise,” the 8:45 “The Ones” trades volume back and forth but finds its breadth at about the sixth minute as the dramatic lead turns on a dime to desert rock thrust en route to wherever the hell it goes next. Honestly, after that moment, everything’s gravy, but Oreyeon lay it on thick with closer “Starship Pusher” and never neglect melody in the face of nod. Worth a deeper dig if you get the chance.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Melody Fields, Melody Fields

melody fields melody fields

Sometimes you hear a record and it’s like the band is doing you a favor by existing. To that, thanks Melody Fields. The Gothenburg psych troupe lace their lysergic flow with folkish harmonies and an open sensibility on their self-titled debut that comes coupled with enough tonal presence to still consider them heavy not that it matters. They break out the sax on “Morning Sun” to welcome effect, and the sun continues to shine through “Liberty” and the garage-buzzing “Run” before “Rain Man” turns water droplets into keyboard notes and Beatlesian — think “Rain” — voice arrangements atop soothing instrumental drift, every bit the centerpiece and an excellent precursor to the acoustic-based “Fire” and the 10-minute “Trädgränsen,” which is the crowning achievement of this self-titled debut, which, if I’d been hip to it in time, would’ve made both the 2018 best albums and best debuts list. They cap with a reprise of “Morning Sun” and underscore the solid foundation beneath the molten beauty of their work throughout. To ask for another album seems greedy, but I will anyway. More, please.

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Sound Effect Records website

 

Mammoth Grove, Slow Burn

mammoth grove slow burn

Okay, look, enough screwing around. It’s time for someone to sign Mammoth Grove. The Calgary natives have been putting out quality heavy psych rock since their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and their latest long-player, the four-song Slow Burn is a righteous amalgam of peace-thru-rock that lives up to its freewheeling vibes in “Seasons” after the methodical opener “Valleys” and rolls out a bit of melodic ’70s biker rock bliss in “Black Meadow” before the side-B-consuming “Gloria” (18:42) asks early if you’re ready to go and then goes like gone, gone, gone, and gone further. Given the analog mindset involved and the heart on display throughout, there’s something fitting about it being pressed up in an edition of 100 hand-screenprinted LPs and 100 CDs likewise, but the more people who could hear it, the merrier, so yeah, some label or other needs to step up and make that happen, and I dare you to listen to the solo that hits past the 14-minute mark in “Gloria” and tell me otherwise. Dare you.

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Mammoth Grove on Bandcamp

 

Crimson Devils, A Taste for Blood

crimson devils a taste for blood

Since pared down to a trio from the four-piece incarnation they present here, Austin’s Crimson Devils first released their debut, A Taste for Blood, in 2017, but gave it a vinyl revisit last year and it’s little mystery why. The record comprises 11 sharply-composed tracks of Small Stone-style heavy rock, taking cues from Sasquatch in modern-via-classic modus, picking and choosing elements of ’70s and ’90s rock to conjure formidable groove and engaging hooks. There’s considerable swagger and weight in “They Get It,” and while opener “Dead and Gone” seems to show an influence in its vocal patterning from Elder, as the album unfolds, it’s more about the blast of “Captain Walker” or the penultimate “Nothing to Claim” and the straight-ahead vibes of “Bad News Blues” and “No Action” than anything so outwardly prog. There’s plenty to dig in the rock-for-rockers mindset, and it’s the kind of offering that should probably come with an octane rating. However such things are measured, safe to say it would not be low.

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Crimson Devils on Bandcamp

 

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Iron & Stone to Release You Can’t Stop What’s Coming EP in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

iron and stone

My first thought when I read the title of Iron & Stone‘s new EP was, “Oh sweet, O Brother Where Art Thou.” Then I remembered I had the wrong Coen Bros. movie. Actually, the title derives from one of the many memorable lines spoken in No Country for Old Men, which seems on the surface like it would be the directing duo’s most morally nihilistic film, except that they followed it up with Burn After Reading, which was all the more sinister for couching its lack of faith in humanity in comedy. Anyhooze, You Can’t Stop What’s Coming is the follow-up to Iron & Stone’s 2017 full-length, Petrichor (review here), and it’ll be out in May through Hand of Doom Records with each track based in some way on No Country for Old Men. I guess that’s probably way easier to get doom from than “Man of Constant Sorrow.”

The following announcement came down the PR wire:

iron and stone you can't stop what's coming

Karlsruhe‘s Hand Of Doom Records presents Iron & Stones new EP “You can‘t stop what‘s coming.”

The successor to Iron & Stone‘s 2017 album „Petrichor“ (released on Hand Of Doom sister-label Backbite Records) features 4 tracks, all of them lyrically inspired by the Coen Brothers movie-adaption of Cormac McCarthy‘s „No country for old men“.

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, 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. (https://www.facebook.com/PMATattoo/, http://www.pma-tattoo.de/)

“You can‘t stop what‘s coming” will be released on one-sided vinyl (with an etched b-side) in an edition of 300 copies and as digital download. There is no concrete release-date yet, but Hand Of Doom are shooting for a release in late May 2019.

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

https://www.facebook.com/ironandstoneband/
https://ironandstone.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/handofdoomrecords/
https://handofdoomentertainment.bigcartel.com

Iron & Stone, Petrichor (2017)

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Desertfest Berlin 2019: Greenleaf, The Shrine, Blackwater Holylight, Worshipper, Mirror Queen, R.I.P., The Great Machine and Lucidvox Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2019 banner

Yes. This. Cool update from Desertfest Berlin 2019, with Greenleaf and The Shrine and The Great Machine along for the ride with LucidvoxR.I.P., BlackWater HolyLightMirror Queen and Worshipper, and the pairings of the last four between RidingEasy Records and Tee Pee Records leads me to wonder if maybe Mirror Queen and Worshipper won’t hit the road together for a bit and if R.I.P. and BlackWater HolyLight won’t do likewise. For all I know, that’s already announced, but it’s speculation as far as my brain and limited, I’m-writing-in-the-car internet connection are concerned, but either way, they all bring something different Desertfest Berlin 2019, and pretty much anywhere Greenleaf goes is someplace you want to be. Man, I’d love to see that band again one of these… years.

Full announcement came down the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2019 poster

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2019 ADDS THE SHRINE + GREENLEAF + THE GREAT MACHINE + LUCIDVOX + MIRROR QUEEN + WORSHIPPER + R.I.P. + BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT!

Spring is almost around the corner, which also means DESERTFEST BERLIN is coming close and will be again opening its holy grounds for the annual and 8th festival edition in the heart of Berlin, the Arena, this May. While desert rock fans and riff lovers from all over the globe come together at the leading cult underground festival specialising in all aspects of the Stoner Rock, Doom, Heavy Psych and all its great subgenres soon, today DESERTFEST BERLIN announced the next batch of great names and high class acts to their already eclectic line-up!

If Black Flag, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath would have a baby, it would be definitely named THE SHRINE. Hailing straight out of the local rock scene at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles and delivering a breed of heavy, psychedelic, riff based Rock n’ Roll, THE SHRINE will make their long awaited return to DESERTFEST BERLIN this year, and are gonna light it up!

You eagerly asked for them, so you get them! As a most welcome guest and longtime member of the DESERTFEST family, we are thrilled to have GREENLEAF rocking out the Arena stage this year! The Swedish power rock unit will not only present their brand new album live on stage, but as always showcasing some of their finest riffs, haunting melodies to sing along, a unique groove and energetic stage presence the band is known and loved for. Welcome back at DESERTFEST BERLIN, guys!

Furthermore DESERTFEST is proud to confirm THE GREAT MACHINE will be coming all the way from Israel to Berlin! This trio creates a strong psychedelic, stoner rock experience with a heavy dose of the punk rock attitude, join THE GREAT MACHINE on their wild trip into the freedom of heaviest sounds, live at the ARENA Berlin 2019!

With the hints of folk and kraut-rock, LUCIDVOX from Moscow will join to represent full ladies power at this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN! Sometimes psychedelic rock can extend beyond clichés of shaggy-haired ruffians; LUCIDVOX, the forerunner in a new and burgeoning Russian DIY rock scene, prove that more than well. While the brains behind this Moscowian four-piece, Alina, Nadezhda, Galla and Anna, have played outside of Russia just once, DESERTFEST BERLIN will be their very first show in Germany to date. Please give these killer ladies a very warm welcome!

Cult fuzz rock label Tee Pee Records (home of bands such as Witch, Sleep, High On Fire among many more ) are presenting us two more exciting and up&coming acts from their excellent artist roster: US-based MIRROR QUEEN and WORSHIPPER are currently rising from the psychedelic hard rock underground, both perfectly proving that the soul of melodic heavy music still burns brightly!

After several years of hammering the US west coast with their blunt scythe of street-doom, R.I.P. are about to embark on an extensive tour this Spring with a stop at DESERTFEST BERLIN! The band’s debut “In the Wind”, out on RidingEasy Records, closes the casket on the trends and exhumes the notion that doom isn’t always about how slow and de-tuned you can play, but about fear, death, leather and playing as heavy as possible.

Rounding up today’s announcement with another MUST-SEE tip from the underground, please welcome BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT to the 8th edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN! The Heavy Psych quintett from Portland, who released their critically acclaimed debut just last year on RidingEasy Records, are currently on their way to the top of the biggest hopes in psychedelic rock music, and we are more than psyched DESERTFEST BERLIN will be part of their journey.

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2019 takes place between May 3th – 5th 2019 at the riverside in the heart of Berlin, the ARENA. The festival will not only provide a new sound-and payment-system on the ground, but also more space PLUS a psychedelic wonderland chillout- and live zone on the ‘Hoppetosse’ boat!

Day- and Weekend passes are selling fast, make sure to grab yours at the following link:
www.desertfest-tickets.de

www.desertfest-tickets.de
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

BlackWater HolyLight, “Wave of Conscience” official video

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Mount Atlas Premiere “The Unknown” from Mistress EP

Posted in audiObelisk on March 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mount atlas

German Hammond-soaked heavy rockers Mount Atlas will release their Mistress EP on May 10 through H42 Records. The four-songer runs a crisp 15 minutes, and while the keys provided by Christoph Ramke bring an inevitable classic flair to the proceedings, neither the production nor the style of the band is outwardly retro in the “vintage” sense of analog worship. Rather, the opening title-track and subsequent “Pace,” “Evil Side” and “The Unknown” are presented with pro-shop clarity and fullness, and the guitars of Jonas Willenbrink (also vocals) and Lars Rempe, the bass of Florian Eckey, Hendrik Kurre‘s drums and the aforementioned organ come through with an energy fitting for a band getting their start — having come together in 2016 — but still plainly moving ahead of their 2017 debut, Titan, in terms of reach and structure, “Pace” tapping into NWOBHM style classic metallurgy as “Evil Side” tap more of a swing, the latter being the only song over four minutes long and accounting for that differential with a still-relatively-quick midsection break.

The point, I guess, is it’s straight-ahead classic-derived-but-not-classic-imitating heavy rock and roll, but that alonemount atlas mistress does little to note the emphasis Mount Atlas put on clarity of performance and on songwriting. “Evil Side”‘s hook is catchy and delivered with an ’80s arena-metal spirit, and “The Unknown” would seem to follow-suit in its general base of influence. Classic rock meets classic metal meets modern riffing — Mistress has no trouble drawing strength from multiple sides, and Mount Atlas seem to be perfectly comfortable in going over the top sound-wise. Titan was a little bit rougher around its edges, but the ensuing cohesiveness of these songs is another unmistakable sign of the band’s growth. They may or may not still be maturing as a group, but even if that’s the case, a foundation of craft only ever serves well, and it does throughout this EP too. Mount Atlas are well comfortable interweaving guitar and organ on “Mistress” itself, and with that, they set the tone for a mini-showcase of their wares; a bit of a sampler for those who either did or didn’t catch the first offering when it came out to let all concerned parties know where they might be heading. A choice EP, in other words.

And a bit of unpretentious little-of-this-little-of-that-and-a-lot-of-melody heavy rock never hurts, so I’m happy today to host the premiere of “The Unknown” from the EP. You’ll find it below, followed by more from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Mount Atlas’s bubbling sound of the Hammond organ, their rough guitar riffs as well as the floating melodies will bring you back to the 70s and 80s. At the same time, they manage to maintain their individual sonority. They alternate between spherical sounds and heavy doom riffs, which sound as if played whilst wearing equally heavy leather jackets.

Their first record “Titan” has been leaving its marks on the international rock and metal scenes since April 2017. The new EP “Mistress” will be released on Vinyl, CD and digitally May 10, 2019.

Mount Atlas is:
Jonas Willenbrink (Vocals / Guitar)
Christoph Ramke (Organ / Synth)
Hendrik Kurre (Drums)
Florian Eckey (Bass)
Lars Rempe (Guitar)

Mount Atlas on Instagram

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Mount Atlas on Twitter

H42 Records website

H42 Records on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records on Twitter

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