Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Arizona trio Goya aren’t at all far removed from the June release of their latest EP, Forever Dead, Forever Stoned, but they’ve already got a new offering in the works, this time taking on two tracks in homage to grunge gods Nirvana. Apparently something of a bonding point for the members of the band — children of the ’90s, arise! — the two cuts “Drain You” and “D-7” (the latter originally by Wipers) will be issued via Opoponax Records as Goya‘s half of a split vinyl with Boston’s Aneurysm later this year or early next. For now, Goya have “Drain You” streaming as a lead-in for their performance this weekend among the riffy throng at Psycho Las Vegas, and you can check it out below.
From the PR wire:
GOYA: Arizona-Based Stoner Doom Trio To Release Limited Edition, Two-Song Nirvana Tribute; Band To Play Psycho Las Vegas This Weekend
2016 marks Phoenix, Arizona-based stoner doom trio GOYA’s fifth year as a band. After singer/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose recently recruited Sonny DeCarlo on bass, they wanted to get into the studio as quickly as possible to celebrate what they could bring together. Knowing that it takes time and care to craft original material, they decided to record a couple of covers for the time being. All three members grew up in the ’90s, so the logical choice of band for them to cover was Nirvana, particularly with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nirvana’s seminal album Nevermind full-length on the horizon.
After only a few rehearsals together, they entered Switchblade Sound in Tempe, Arizona to track “Drain You” and “D-7” with long-time friend and ex-GOYA bassist, Joe Asselin, who recorded their last album, Obelisk. Though “D-7” is originally by ’70s Portland punk band, Wipers, and was later covered by Nirvana, GOYA plays it in the true spirit of Nirvana. The tracks are mastered by Brad Boatright (Obituary, Sleep, Magrudergrind, Gatecreeper et al).
These songs will be released through Owens’ label Opoponax Records on a limited-to-100 lathe cut seven-inch on Saturday, September 24th. The band will have a very limited amount for sale at their appearance at Psycho Las Vegas THIS WEEKEND. “Drain You” will also appear in late 2016 or early 2017 as GOYA’s half of a split 7″ with Boston punk unit, Aneurysm, also to be released by Opoponax Records.
Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day Two of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review — that’s an awful lot of capital letters. I’m not sure if it’s quite such a formal occasion, but perhaps that’s just an effect of staring at some of the names in this particular batch, who from classic heavy rock to post-black metal to stoner riffs, drone, doom and beyond offer a pretty vast range and more than a small measure of profile throughout. It’s a substantial swath, is what I’m saying. If you can’t find something here to dig on, well, I’d say look again, but of course there’ll also be another 10 reviews tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and there were 10 yesterday as well, so I’m sure something will turn up if it hasn’t yet. Here we go.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown
More than 20 years on from their self-titled debut, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars release their ninth LP, Sunrise to Sundown (on Inside Out Music). They seem to have set themselves to the sole task of making the records that one wishes Deep Purple were making, full of righteous organ-laced classic heavy thrust, driven by top tier songwriting and performance on every level. Founding guitarist Michael Amott (also Carcass) has assembled a lineup of masters, and since 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), frontman Apollo Papathanasio (also Firewind) has provided the soaring voice to add to the keyboard majesty of Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Candlemass) on songs like “I Turn to Stone.” The album’s 11 cuts are catchy, universally structured, and varied in their feel enough to carry the listener through fluidly, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Mercyful Fate) and drummer Ludwig Witt (ex-Firebird) locking in weighted grooves and underscoring the flow of what comes across like an increasingly collaborative songwriting process. Sunrise to Sundown is the sound of a band knowing what they want to do and how they want to do it and then doing precisely that.
How many records does Ode to a Black Hole make it for Danish improve spacelords Øresund Space Collective? I honestly don’t know. Their Bandcamp lists 52 releases. Granted, not all of them are full-length studio LPs, but they jam whether they’re live or in the studio, so after a point it’s kind of moot. However many in the ultimate tally, Ode to a Black Hole is somewhat unique among them, exploring the darker side of the cosmic reaches in a bleaker, droning psychedelia spread across two instrumental tracks put to tape at the same time as 2015’s triple-LP Different Creatures (review here). Of course, it’s Øresund Space Collective, so there is still plenty of synth and effects swirl to be had, but it’s a slower galaxial movement as “Ode to a Black Hole Part 1” feeds directly into “Ode to a Black Hole Part 2.” Whatever their method of getting there, Øresund Space Collective prove once again how apparently boundless their scope has become with nuance of guitar and key flourish beneath the surface of the mix to let the listener know there’s life out in the expanse.
Phoenix, Arizona’s Goya continue their forward march with The Enemy EP (on STB Records). Still fair to say Electric Wizard are a primary influence, but as shown on their last full-length, 2015’s charmingly-titled Obelisk (review here), the trio are increasingly able to put more of themselves into their sound. In “The Enemy,” “Last” and “Light Years,” that shows in tighter songwriting, some vocal harmonies on “Light Years,” and a harder overall tonal impact than the tenets of post-Witchcult Today doomery might lead one to expect, reminding in parts of the raw in-room feel that Egypt have come to proffer, burly but more about groove than attitude. The EP closes with a nine-minute take on “The Enemy” itself, adding more harmonies, some screams at the end, and a lengthy midsection jam to flesh out its extra four minutes. Goya have been and still are a bright spot (existentially, if not in mood) in up-and-coming US doom, and The Enemy might be a stopgap coming off of Obelisk, but it reminds listeners of their growth very much still in progress.
In a universe full of pretenders to the throne of Eyehategod, German six-piece Black Shape of Nexus prove there’s room for genuine creativity in sludge. Their fourth offering, Carrier (on Exile on Mainstream), finds them past the 10-year mark and lumbering their way through five varied originals, from the cavernous opener “I Can’t Play It” through the droning “Lift Yourself” and the utter spacecrush that ensues in “Facepunch Transport Layer” before the villainous laughter at the end of “Sachsenheim” leads to a 12-minute take on Hellhammer’s “Triumph of Death,” which closes. It feels like no coincidence that of the Black Shape of Nexus-penned inclusions “Sand Mountain” is the centerpiece; the tortured screaming, claustrophobic riff and blend of rawness and lush depth speak to the originality at the core of their approach. There’s a firm sense of fuckall here, and my understanding is making Carrier was something of a trial, but the results are perhaps only more vicious for that, and thus stronger.
Six years and the ascent of an entire movement of similarly-minded acts later, Cough ooze back to activity with Still They Pray (on Relapse), their dirt-caked third full-length. That movement, by the way, includes fellow Richmonders Windhand, with whom Cough now share bassist Parker Chandler and whose Garrett Morris recorded here along with Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, who remain a major influence in Cough’s grueling, nodding filth, brought to bear over eight tracks and a purposefully unmanageable 67-minute runtime. Stylistically it’s not so far from where Cough were on 2010’s Ritual Abuse (review here), the bleak anarchistic lurch and tonal immersion still very much at the fore of “Possession,” “Dead Among the Roses” and the organ-inclusive “The Wounding Hours,” but though they can play slow enough to make “Masters of Torture” seem positively thrashy by comparison, they never lose their sense of atmosphere, as the acoustic-led closing title-track makes plain in fashion no less heavy than the punishment meted out before it.
It feels factually inaccurate to call something so wilfully charred “vibrant,” but Oranssi Pazuzu’s fourth long-player, Värähtelijä (on Svart and 20 Buck Spin), not only finds light in its overarching darkness, but makes it a pivotal aspect of the album’s 69-minute course. Open structures, an enviable depth of mix between far-off guitar, keys, organ, various layers of screams, etc., songs like 12-minute opener “Saturaatio” and the later 17-minute chaoswirl of “Vasemann Käden Hierarkia” offer stylistic breadth as much prog as they are psychedelia or black metal, perhaps the next phase of the latter’s cosmic wing come to fruition. Relatively speaking, the more straightforward “Havuluu” offers listeners a moment to catch their breadth, but the organ-led experimentalism of 10-minute closer “Valveavaruus” gurgles in an exploration of ambient downward plunge. One of the most adventurous black metal releases of 2016, if you can still even tag a genre to it, which I’m not sure you can. A band doing pivotal and forward-thinking work.
Though they just got off a lengthy US run, the fact that Karma to Burn’s webstore offers their new Mountain Czar EP in euro instead of dollars could easily be taken as a sign of where the band’s general priorities lie. I don’t know if founding guitarist Will Mecum is actually living abroad or remains in West Virginia, but their label, Rodeostar Records, is European, they maintain a close relationship with German artist Alexander Von Wieding, and their tour schedule keeps a definite continental focus. So be it. Mountain Czar brings five new cuts, three by-the-numbers Karma to Burn instrumentals, the highlight of which is patient, jangly-guitar closer “63,” and “Uccidendo un Sogno,” an Italian-language cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a Dream” sung by guest vocalist Stefanie Savy and featuring Manuel Bissig of Switzerland’s Sons of Morpheus on guitar. Karma to Burn very much remain Karma to Burn throughout, Mecum joined by drummer Evan Devine and bassist Eric Clutter, but they’re changing what that means in interesting ways.
Comprised solely of guitarist/vocalist Sleaze and drummer Izz, German Southern metallers Black Mood begin their seven-song sophomore outing, Squalid Garden (on Daredevil Records) with a sample of Cornelius from Planet of the Apes quoting the Lawgiver to “shun the beast man,” and so on. By the time they get around to the chugging and warbling “Ohh, save my soul” in second cut “IWNAR,” the Down/Crowbar vibe has been laid on so thick that it’s unmistakable. It’s been seven years since Black Mood made their self-titled debut in 2009 – they had an EP, Toxic Hippies, out in 2012 – but their chestbeating, dudely vibes are easily sourced, even in faster, more Pantera-style moments in “Reflected,” “100 Squalid Garden” or closer “Side,” making the album ultimately a matter of taste for anyone who’d take it on. For me, some aspects ring derivative, others show flashes of individualism, but it’s a very specific vision of Southern metal at work here, and it’s not going to be for everyone.
Newcomers Nebula Drag join the ranks of a crowded heavy psych scene in their native San Diego via their self-titled, self-released debut, but the trio distinguish themselves immediately with a solidified underpinning of punkish intent, so that the airy vocals of “Sano” float over an insistent, noisy crunch. That blend is toyed with in one direction or another throughout the release, the five-minute “So Low” finding some middle-ground in grunge push, but as the subsequent “Up and Down”’s Melvins-style roll and the hardcore-style drive of “Lost Time” play out, Nebula Drag seem far less tied to any single approach. It’s a dynamic that serves them well throughout the album’s 10-track/37-minute run, and they maintain a sense of rawness in the almost thrashy breakdown of “I Can Not Explain” that speaks to a lack of pretense to go along with their potential for development. Will be curious to hear if one side or the other wins out in their sound over the long-term, but in a town where so many bands are geared on being the most laid back, it’s refreshing to hear a group with a more forceful tack.
After a series of numbered full-lengths, Glasgow consciousness-stompers Ommadon offer their self-titled sixth album through Dry Cough Records, Burning World Records and Medusa Crush Recordings. Doubtless the three labels were needed in order simply lift the 41-minute, single-song release, which is so unspeakably and ridiculously heavy as to warrant comparison to Buried at Sea’s Migration. Its retching lumber is superlative, and in giving it their name, Ommadon signal (and say outright) that it’s the work they’ve been driving toward all along. Fair enough. There is no moment of relenting from the abysmal intentions of “Ommadon” itself, and if this is to be the piece that ultimately defines the band, it’s one worthy of consideration for the outright extremity it brings to doom, sludge and drone, as well as the methodical nature in which it unfolds. Whatever its ultimate impact, Ommadon have pushed themselves forward and crafted an excruciating contribution that feels like a monolith bent to their will.
Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.
As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
To the best of my limited capacity for finding this kind of thing out, June will mark the first edition of the Denver Electric Funeral festival. Maybe it’s just because I’ve got Psycho on the brain, but I can’t help but wonder if by putting the name of the city that will act as host — Denver, Colorado — promoter Dust Presents is keeping an eye toward franchising or keeping mobile for future editions. That’s speculation of course. It could just as easily be like Southwest Terror Fest or, more specifically, Maryland Deathfest and L.A. Murderfest, and simply showing regional pride and letting people know where they should go if they want to see it. In this case, you go to Denver.
Wherever the next one will take place — how do I even get on a tangent like that; oh yeah, extreme exhaustion — the lineup for what I still think is the first Denver Electric Funeral is pretty sick, and matches a healthy portion of locals in bands like Cloud Catcher, Sugar Skulls and Marigolds and Malahierba is met with a range of others from farther out, whether that’s West Coast outfits like Radio Moscow, Mondo Drag and Sacri Monti, East Coast sludgers Sourvein and Toke, or Texas troublemakers Mothership. Looks like it’s gonna be a good time.
June 4 and 5 are the dates, 3 Kings Tavern in Denver is the place, ticket link is below, and here’s the lineup:
DUST Presents: Denver Electric Funeral Fest June 4th-5th, 2016
Denver Electric Funeral Fest will be a two-day offering of all things heavy, featuring 20 of the best rock n’ roll / metal bands in the country. Instagram: @dustpresents.
Lineup: Radio Moscow Sourvein Mothership Mondo Drag Goya Sweat Lodge Sacri Monti Cloud Catcher Toke Crypt Trip Greenbeard The Munsens Space in Time Poison Rites Malahierba Tricoma Ghosts of Glaciers Warhawk Love Gang Sugar Skulls & Marigolds
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Goodness gracious. Here I was minding my business on a Sunday night and Psycho Las Vegas went and more than doubled the size of its lineup, adding Uncle Acid, Elder, Converge, Wovenhand, Boris, The Black Heart Procession, Budos Band, Dead Meadow, SubRosa, Midnight, Disenchanter, Lumerians, Tombstones, ASG, Death Alley, Ides of Gemini, Goya, Dirty Streets, Crypt Sermon, Mantar, Gozu, Beelzefuzz, Lo-Pan, Holy Grove, CHRCH, Carousel and more. Not like the fest wasn’t huge already, but big bands, small bands, in-between bands, European bands, Asian bands, West Coast bands, East Coast bands — pretty much if it falls under the category of “bands,” they’re probably playing. And by way of a friendly reminder, this isn’t it. As you can see in the lineup below, there are more announcements to come next month.
Just look at this insane shit:
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM (PDT)
Las Vegas, NV
BLUE OYSTER CULT SLEEP UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN PENTAGRAM CANDLEMASS DEATH TRUTH AND JANEY CONVERGE (Announced March 3rd) BUDOS BAND WOVENHAND (Announced March 3rd) BLACK HEART PROCESSION FU MANCHU BORIS DOWN ZOMBI COLOUR HAZE YOB DEAD MEADOW ELDER ACID KING DANAVA SUBROSA MIDNIGHT SATAN’S SATYRS THE SHRINE JUCIFER BONGRIPPER BLOOD OF THE SUN ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE MARS RED SKY SPELLJAMMER BELZEBONG THE COSMIC DEAD TOMBSTONES LUMERIANS ASG SAVIOURS A STORM OF LIGHT DEATH ALLEY LECHEROUS GAZE DIRTY STREETS IDES OF GEMINI GOYA SPENCER MOODY SOLO (Murder City Devils) WITCH MOUNTAIN HAS A SHADOW ASHBURY CRYPT SERMON MONDO DRAG MANTAR TALES OF MURDER AND DUST SHROUD EATER CRAZY BULL DEMON LUNG LOPAN CHRCH BEHOLD THE MONOLITH DISENCHANTER CAVE OF SWIMMERS HORNSS CAROUSEL TIA CARRERA GOZU FLAVOR CRYSTALS HOLY GROVE BEELZEFUZZ GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST FAMILY HIGHLANDS LYCUS THE COMPANY CORVETTE WASHERWOMAN THE RARE BREED INVDRS
Psycho Pool Party 8.25.16 MUDHONEY FATSO JETSON MOTHERSHIP GOLDEN VOID ELECTRIC CITIZEN MAC SABBATH GREENBEARD
ACCOMMODATIONS Join the bands and crew at the Hard Rock Hotel & use the code: Psych16 at checkout to recieve 30% off your rooms.
[Please note: Press play above to stream Goya’s Obelisk in full. Album is out Aug. 1 on STB Records (CD & tape; LP to follow). Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the stream.]
Obelisk is the well-titled second full-length offering from Phoenix, Arizona, three-piece Goya. Set for release through respected purveyor STB Records, it follows 2013’s 777 debut and their initial 2012 demo (review here), as well as a 2014 EP, Satan’s Fire (review here), and an early 2015 split with Seattle’s Wounded Giant (review here) that found them dug deep into Electric Wizard-style plod on the extended “No Place in the Sky.” What was an early version of the track there is refined on Obelisk and given due reverence in its position as the 14-minute closer, following a swath of dirge riffing, devil-worship and malevolent churn.
I can’t quite decide if the album knows how much fun it’s having as it conjures its darkened chaos-swirl, but suffice it to say, a song like opener “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff” might not be a laugher in terms of its lyrics, but from the opening watery guitar provided by Jeff Owens (also vocals) that unfolds Oborn-again over the swinging ride of drummer Nick Lose — Jirix-Mie Paz plays bass on the record but seems to have since been replaced by Ben Clarkson — to the penultimate “Echo from Space” interlude of feedback before “No Place in the Sky” takes hold, it becomes abundantly clear that Goya are absolutely dug into the grooves of their own making and are enjoying the crap out of the heavy roll they enact across Obelisk‘s nine-track/55-minute span.
That being the case makes it much easier to follow suit. Goya have their variety in structure and approach — the aforementioned “Echo from Space” serves well as a late interlude, and the quiet ritualized vibe of “The Star” after second track “The Devil’s Pray” does likewise, while “300 Eyes” cuts to the heart of their songwriting with an acoustic modus and layered vocals and “The Sun,” which follows, is a standout for its speed alone — but the crux of Obelisk‘s overarching atmosphere and the impression it leaves resides in cuts like “Nothin’ but Dead Stuff,” “The Devil’s Prey,” “Beyond Good and Evil” and “No Place in the Sky,” Goya making a case to establish their own witchcult in bouncing riffs and Satanihilist vibing. Taken on their surface, these parts of Obelisk aren’t especially surprising — 777, Satan’s Fire, that Wounded Giant split and even the early demo carried a similar influence base, but it’s what the trio have managed to bring to it of their own that distinguishes their work.
To wit, the patience of the 7:46 title-track, “Obelisk,” becomes a defining moment for more than the simple fact that the song also shares its name with the album. Its slow unfurling is deceptively graceful, and while one hesitates to call Goya subtle since that doesn’t really seem to be what they’re going for, they’ve cleverly managed to begin a process whereby having mastered their influences, they’re starting to move beyond them. That’s not necessarily a one-album process, but if you listen to the shifts between “Obelisk,” “300 Eyes,” “The Sun” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” it becomes clear there’s more to the band’s approach than buzzsaw tones and space-echo vocals.
Not to say neither of those elements aren’t present and/or put to good use, just that they’re not exclusives for the band at this stage in their development. The effect that has is that when the quicker push of “The Sun” gives way to the lumbering, weighted crash of “Beyond Good and Evil,” the latter is all the more righteous. Likewise, back on side A, the gradual buildup of “Obelisk” is all the more worth appreciating after “The Devil’s Pray” and “The Star” lead into it — bottom line: the album isn’t short at 55 minutes, but it is impeccably structured to highlight Goya‘s tonal and conceptual strengths. When it comes around, “No Place in the Sky” fuzzes to life with Owens‘ guitar setting the pace and sets itself to the complex task of tying the various sides of Obelisk together.
Cohesive as the album is atmospherically — and it is — that’s not an easy task to ask of one song, even at 14 minutes. Still, “No Place in the Sky” reinforces the mood the band has worked with for the duration, the godlessness that served as theme in “The Devil’s Prey” and “Beyond Good and Evil,” and the rolling rhythms of those tracks and the opener without losing sight of making its own impression, which it does in the second half centering around memorable cycles through and around the line, “It doesn’t fucking matter.” I’m not sure the fuckall is quite the guiding principle the band would have the listener believe — if it was, they probably wouldn’t have paid so much attention to the flow of the record between its songs — but you gotta end somewhere and, as I say, “No Place in the Sky” makes for a memorable finish, rounding out its last minute with a slowdown and crash that lets the amp buzz carry Obelisk to its conclusion.
What will be a readily accessible listen for the already converted, Goya‘s second offers evidence of growth undertaken, provides glimpses of what might develop down the line, finds the band reveling in their processes and hits like a hammer made of pills. There is little one might ask of it that it does not deliver.
Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been listening to The Obelisk Radio a lot this week, particularly while starting to put together my top albums of 2014 list, so it seemed only appropriate to get a new round of adds up to the server. As we come to the end of the year, there’s always a slowdown in terms of releases, but if I had to put a number to it, I’d call it a 10, maybe 20 percent drop at most. If it was running water and you were looking at it, you’d notice no difference. A flood is still a flood.
As such, 14 records joined the server today. Some are recently reviewed, some aren’t out yet, some have been out for a little bit. It’s a solid batch of stuff, and if you haven’t yet had enough of lists — more to come, believe me — it’s worth a look at the Playlist and Updates Page. The amount of stuff on there is staggering. It’s a wonder the radio stream manages to fit in so much Clutch at all.
Let’s get to it.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 19, 2014:
Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Split LP
Two sides, one song from each band, each a massive slab of a jam. Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead and Liverpool’s Mugstar make a solid pairing, and by solid I definitely mean liquid, and by liquid I mean that’s what your brains will be by the time Mugstar‘s “Breathing Mirror” (18:42) and The Cosmic Dead‘s “Fukahyoocastulah” (25:51) are done. Instrumental in their entirety and jammed out on a subspace frequency that I only imagine they can already hear in the Delta Quadrant — and no doubt they’re wondering what the title of The Cosmic Dead‘s contribution means exactly — both cuts share an affinity for progressive heavy psych exploration, kosmiche and krautrock alike, but with a fresh take on the classic idea of we’re-gonna-get-in-a-room-and-this-is-what-happens that runs through, whether it’s in the drone midsection of “Breathing Mirror” after the jam has died down and before its resurgence, or the later reaches of “Fukayoocastulah,” which rest on the nigh-eternal bassline that’s steady enough to hold the course despite the various effects freakouts, slow swirls and experiments happening around it. About 45 minutes solid of primo heavy jamming? Sign me up. Mugstar’s website, on Bandcamp, The Cosmic Dead on Thee Faceboks, on Bandcamp.
Goya, Satan’s Fire
Eleven-minute opener “Malediction and Death” makes its primary impression in its consuming tonality — a harsh but encompassing low end that emerges out of the initial cavalcade of feedback starting the song. The first three minutes of “Malediction and Death” are noise before Phoenix’s Goya kick in their riff, drums and vocals, sounding as huge on the Satan’s Fire EP as on their preceding split with Wounded Giant (review here) but perhaps even more malevolent as they continue to find their place within wizard doom, marked out by the two-at-once solo shredding of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the lurching rhythm behind him and the swing of drummer Nick Lose, whose snare punctuates “Malediction and Death” like a life-preserver tossed into the abyss. Unsurprisingly, they end noisy. “Symbols” picks up with two minutes of sparse, atmospheric drumming, and the title-track (5:58) finishes with a tale of antichristianity, dropping out of life, and watching the world fall apart. Doom? Yes. Perhaps not as patient as “Malediction and Death,” “Satan’s Fire” itself offers suitable heat, and delivered through amps that likewise sound about ready to melt, provides a memorable impression even beyond its Oborn-style hook. Goya on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Somewhere between classic doom and more aggressive, hardcore punk-derived noise, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are the kind of band who could probably release nothing but 7″ singles for the next five years and still make a go of it. As it stands, their self-titled debut offers a stirring rawness in the dual guitars that reminds there’s more ways to make an impact tonally than just with volume or fuzz. Their roots are in punk, and that’s plain enough to hear in lead guitarist Cody Stieg‘s vocals on songs like “Light” and “Lust,” but “Haze” nestles into a stoner groove late that suits Attalla well, and the later “Veil” offers charged propulsion in the drums of Aaron Kunde, whose snare sound is tinny but fitting with the sans-frills stylings of Stieg, rhythm guitarist Brian Hinckley and bassist Bryan Kunde. Some variation in tempo throughout changes things up, but a particularly triumphant moment comes with the raw Slayer-esque foreboding (think slow Slayer) that begins “Doom,” a fitting closer to Attalla‘s Attalla with its subtly complex stylistic blend and relatively barebones presentation. I’m not sure where Attalla go from here in terms of developing their sound, but the debut offers reason enough to want to find out. Attalla on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
If you played me TarLung‘s TarLung debut full-length and told me the trio were from North Carolina, I’d undoubtedly believe you. In fact, they hail from Vienna, Austria, but just so happen to have the Southern sludge ideology nailed down on their first offering. Roots in Crowbar and Eyehategod and Sourvein can be heard throughout, big nod, harsh vocals, weighted plod. The guitars of Rotten and Phillipp “Five“ Seiler (the latter also vocals) brings in some of that Pepper Keenan-style Southern riffing, on “Last Breath” particularly, but the bulk of what they and drummer Marian Waibl get up to on these seven tracks is rawer and nastier, the album’s last three cuts — “Apeplanet,” “Black Forest” and “Space Caravan” — providing the best glimpse at TarLung‘s effective aesthetic interpretation. Tonally and methodologically sound, what remains for them to do is hone a more individualized approach, but particularly for a self-released first album, the crisp harshness they convey on the centerpiece “C2” — a kind of maddening high pitch running throughout — satisfies when taken on its own level, and among the three-piece’s assets, their lack of pretense will no doubt serve them well moving forward. TarLung on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Gangrened, We are Nothing
Proffering lurching, aggressive sludge over three tracks arranged longest to shortest, Finnish trio Gangrened conjure sweeping chaos on We are Nothing, blatantly contradicting the title of the release despite whatever riff-laden nihilism might be at work philosophically. Among the most telling moments on the release — which follows a split tape from the four piece of vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, guitarist/bassist Andreas Österlund, guitarist Jon Imbernon and drummer Owe Inborr, who’ve since traded out their rhythm section — is the opening sample of “Them” in which a man in a Southern US accent rants in paranoid rage about helicopters flying over his property, indicative of some conspiracy or other. In both their influence and their execution, that fits Gangrened‘s overall portrayal well, but both the 12-minute opener “Lung Remover” and closing semi-Black Flag cover “Kontti” (translated “24 Pack” and a feedback-soaked, sludged-up play on “Six Pack”) are pissed off enough to warrant the attention they seem to be demanding in their noisy charge, snail-paced and malevolent as it is. Gangrened on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
As always, this is just a fraction of what was added to The Obelisk Radio today. If you get the chance to check any of this stuff out, I hope you dig it, and if you decide to launch the player, I hope whatever’s playing is awesome.
Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Phoenix duo Goya and Seattle’s Wounded Giant make fitting partners. Their new split 12″ on STB Records finds them distinct enough to be immediately distinguished one from the other, but still with enough in common in their proliferation of plus-sized riffery not to be mismatched. In the case of Goya, the split follows their late-2013 full-length debut, 777, and the preceding 2012 demo (review here), and the (now) duo of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jeff Owens and drummer Nick Lose have already seen fit to issue a follow-up EP, released Dec. 9, called Satan’s Fire. Their inclusion is the 14-minute plodder “No Place in the Sky,” where Wounded Giant deliver two tracks, “The Room of the Torch” and “Dystheist,” totaling a minute less. The Seattle three-piece of bassist Dylan A. Rogers, guitarist/vocalist Bobby James and drummer Alex Bytnar put out their debut full-length, Lightning Medicine, last year and supported it with an appearance at this year’s Hoverfest in Portland, Oregon. All told, the split is a 27-minute showcase for two up-and-coming acts who by all accounts have their sounds together and who’ve been met with no shortage of “whoa no shit heavy riffs bro!”-type hyperbole. Fair enough.
STB‘s endorsement is noteworthy in itself. The label has rightfully earned a reputation over the last two years for both its ear and the quality of its vinyl product. I don’t think they’ve put anything out that hasn’t been gone shortly thereafter, and releases from Ancient Warlocks, Geezer, Curse the Son and Druglord have put them on the map as a considerable presence in American underground heavy proffering a new wave of stoner rock in which it seems only right to count Goya and Wounded Giant as participants. The former are granted side A of the split, and they use their time wisely, “No Place in the Sky” building from a fade-in of feedback fuzz to a languid march that takes hold in full tone at 1:40. Their album and new EP are less so, but Goya‘s demowas almost singly indebted sonically to Electric Wizard, bringing a rawer feel to the Witchcult Today style, and “No Place in the Sky” works in a similar vein, its rhythmic swing and Owens‘ buried-under-a-wall-of-distortion echoing vocals both seem to be culled from Jus Oborn‘s book of spells. They’re hardly the only band out there at this point working under that influence, and they bring more to the presentation than many on “No Place in the Sky,” which lumbers through verse and chorus hooks en route to a bridge of Iommic layered soloing that very subtly hints at the level of construction at work in their sound. Their songwriting, likewise, finds a sense of accomplishment in returning after that jam to the verse and chorus — the lines “It doesn’t really matter/Nothing fucking matters” standing out — before jamming its way into oblivion and a finish of over a minute solid of sustained amp hum and feedback. Take that, ears.
Classic metal is the first vibe Wounded Giant give off on “The Room of the Torch” (7:07), James‘ guitar riffing out a declaration reminiscent of Iron Maiden, but that’s really only part of the story. Half-time drums give the beginnings of Wounded Giant‘s first inclusion a nod of its own with a punchy bassline and an emergent, airy lead that adds to the languid feel. A slowdown before two minutes in marks the transition into a doomier verse — not quite as Wizardly as Goya, but that’s still a factor — with shouts echoing over downer riffs that pick up to a more upbeat thrust of a chorus. The back and forth plays out until shortly before five minutes in, Bytnar‘s kick, double-kick only seconds before, provides the shift to the faster progression serving as the apex of the track. Like Goya, they rein it back in to finish out, albeit more subtly with just a slowdown instrumental reference to the verse riff that gives way to fading feedback and start of “Dystheist” (6:08), which sounds like a crowd shout but is gone soon enough into neo-burly chugging and more restrained vocals, compressed and following the riff. A more open chorus arrives underscored by more double-kick and a metallic feel met head-on with heavy rock tonality, the flourish of the preceding cut stripped away in favor of a more forward attack, which Wounded Giant handle well. A rawer shout, almost a scream, finishes the chorus and that will be the endpoint of “Dystheist” as well on the second cycle through — the structure no less frill-less than the sound, capping the split in strong, commanding form.
As the goal of the release, already noted, is to highlight what Goya and Wounded Giant have going sonically and to keep their momentum in motion, I see no way in which the split doesn’t meet that target. Both Goya‘s track and Wounded Giant‘s tracks deliver heavy-hitting, solid genre-minded executions and, paired up, they offer each band’s quickly-massing audience to encounter the other, which, you know, is the whole idea. The temptation with splits is always to pit one act against the other, to determine a “winner” like they’re in competition. Fine. That’s a lot of fun, but truth be told, nobody here loses, and it doesn’t seem like Goya or Wounded Giant have any interest in duking it out so much as allying themselves to further their individual causes. Score one for riff diplomacy.